TheGreatBlasto

Are the US Navy Carrier Fleets Obsolete?

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British, Russian, Chinese, not to mention combined alliances of smaller armed forces.  If they throw enough assets at that carrier group, it's going down.

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The goal of modern warfare is not to send force against force, it's to throw all your force against weakness.

Fighting wars on equal footing is OK in a game, but risking trillions of dollars of hardware recklessly would be the end of our country, and the world we live in.

 

I don't think that whether a weapons system is viable is determined by whether or not it can be defeated.  The US has lost carriers before and there's nothing to suggest that in a major conflict, it won't lose carriers again.  Anyone who goes to war with the expectation that their weapons systems are infallible and invincible is going to run into a lot of rude surprises.  

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Carriers can neither stop a missile attack, nor can the AEGIS cruisers, nor can they field enough missiles to counter land-based missiles.

 

Just to make sure we are on the same page.  You are aware that the AEGIS cruisers and destroyers are designed specifically to deal with mass missile attacks and that you are also aware that in the event of such an attack, a carriers air wings are equipped to do the same.  If your missiles get through all of that, then they have to deal with jamming systems, chaff and spoofing systems and then any survivors have to deal with the close in defense systems of high speed radar controlled gatling guns right?  

 

 


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Posted (edited) · Report post

They are certainly obsolete given missile defenses, not to mention the Shkval 230 mph torpedo and more advanced versions of this being developed. These will force carrier groups to stand well offshore for defensive purposes thus negating their ground attack role (since Midway type sea battles are a thing of the past). One hit with a Shkval that CV is dead in the water. You cannot intercept a 230 mph torpedo. A barrage of anti-ship missiles would also overwhelm whatever interception capabilities a CV group has at hand and keep them far off an enemy coastline.

 

Just wanted to address the 230 mph torpedo again and what it's actually designed to do. 

 

Essentially this is an antisubmarine weapon designed in an attempt to overcome some serious deficiencies in the sonar capabilities of Russian attack submarines.  Essentially subs detect each other via sonar.  Not the ping type sonar you see in some movies but most passive listening sonars with massive amounts of computer analysis systems which can pick up the noise made by other submarines from many miles away.  

 

US Subs are far quieter than their Russian counterparts and their sonar equipment is far more sensitive and the computers which serve them far more powerful.  What this means is that US attack subs can locate and target their Russian counterparts from ranges at which the Russian sub doesn't even know there is another submarine around.  This can essentially enable US subs to sweep the sea clean of their Russian opposite numbers without the Russian subs being able to effectively respond.  

 

There is, however, a brief moment of vulnerability and this occurs when a US sub opens the doors to it's torpedo tubes in preparation for launch.  This noise can alter a Russian sub that another sub is out there and that, combined with the sounds the torpedo makes when it is launched, could give a Russian sub commander enough information to at least guess where the launching sub is.  Problem is, even if the Russian manages to do that, the Russian torpedos may very well not have the range or the speed to reply before the US sub fades out of view.  

 

The Shval is designed to give a Russian sub commander a weapon fast enough to reach the area of the US sub before it can disappear again.  That's the theory at least but the application still has a lot of things to work out, the biggest being how does this torpedo actually find it's target once it reaches the general area it needs to be in.  The Rocket engine and the Air bubble the torpedo basically flies through creates enormous amounts of noise and since you're trying to find a very quiet object by the whisper soft sounds it makes, having all that noise to deal with essentially makes the torpedo blind with about as much chance to hit a sub as a blind shooter trying to hit a moving target 20 miles away with a bb gun.  

 

Oh, somebody will probably figure it out someday but that day is probably a long ways off.  Even then, such a weapon would pose close to a zero percent chance of actually getting within launch distance of a carrier.  

 

On your other points, carriers do stand well off-shore of enemy coast lines.  It's not the carriers which are a threat to the enemy, it's the airplanes they carry and those airplanes don't need the carrier to be very close to the enemy's shore line to do their jobs.  This is why you didn't see WWII carriers tooling around in the Baltic during WWII and why they only operated in the Med at significant risk to themselves.   Trying not to get pinned too close to the shore has always been a part of how carriers who want to survive have gone about doing their jobs.  That hasn't really changed.

 

And you are absolutely right, blue water carrier battles are a thing of the past, mostly because, outside of the USN, nobody can afford to operate and maintain a fleet of honest to god heavy Aircraft Carriers.   In fact outside of the USN there are exactly two, one French and one Russian, vessels which you could call heavy aircraft carriers and neither of them are a match for the oldest US aircraft carrier currently held in mothballs.

 

I should mention that there are a few of the VTOL or STOL smaller carriers out there as well in addition to the Brazilian Sao Paulo which is a small traditional aircraft carrier handed down from the French, but none of these smaller carriers are in the same class or have anywhere near the same capabilities as the vessels we are talking about.  If you want to go in that direction then you probably need to include the US Tarawa, Wasp and America classes as well in that group.     

Edited by BB3_Oregon_Steel

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It better not be obsolete, otherwise we would be screwed...

Common, with trillions of dollars spent and decades of engineering genius, how can they be obsolete?

 

think about you said here in comparison with the Japanese battleships in ww2.

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It better not be obsolete, otherwise we would be screwed...

Common, with trillions of dollars spent and decades of engineering genius, how can they be obsolete?

 

The same way battleships became obsolete by the end of WW2, Some new weapon system or new type of warfare and you're done.

 

New weapons just about always come about as a counter to an older weapon or as an innovation following the countering of a weapon, its an endless cycle.

 

Group "A" counters the favored weapon of Group "B", Then Group "B" creates something new or counters w/e is the favored weapon of group "A"..... It will never end, and the Aircraft carrier is very much the favored weapon for the USA, you need only compare quantities vs other nations to see just how much the US favors their carriers. Any group looking to fight the US in any meaningful way will be forced to contend with and overcome the aircraft carrier in order to even have a chance of success.

 

PS: when I speak of aircraft carriers I always assume and include w/e support they are meant to have, really its the carrier group that is the weapon/tool and not simply the 1 ship.


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PS: when I speak of aircraft carriers I always assume and include w/e support they are meant to have, really its the carrier group that is the weapon/tool and not simply the 1 ship.

Except nothing has come yet which has replaced the plane. Not even missiles. In fact, planes are one of the best ways of delivering missiles.

 

Besides, the primary weapon of a carrier group is the carrier. Not the cruisers, not the submarines; the force-projection and long-range suppression tool is the Carrier.


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Ok, about nuclear weapons. 

 

If you assume that nuclear weapons will be a significant element of a future war, then pretty much all of the conventional weapons in the world are obsolete.  This includes tanks most artillery, soldiers with rifles, most aircraft and most naval vessels of all types.  In such a war, the only weapons that really count are those which can launch nuclear weapons and those which can defend against them and that is a fairly short list.  

 

The nuke argument has been tried before.  In the 1950's and 1960's you saw a great deal of pressure being exerted to do away with most conventional military forces altogether and this included aircraft carriers as well as most other weapons systems.  After all, all one has to do is push a button, send a nuke on it's way and whatever it hits is either going to be melted or so irradiated that it becomes unusable.  Believe it or not, some of the biggest backers of this theory were the accountants and treasury officials of the world. Ounce for ounce, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, nuclear weapons are cheap, so ridiculously cheap that it's not even close.  

 

Then people began to realize the problem with this strategy, most of the conflicts in this world, even potentially ones between major nation states, just aren't worth the likely consequences of using a nuke.  Essentially the "nuke" strategy gives you two options, nuke every potential problem until it glows and risk starting a general nuclear war to say, push the Argentinians out of the Falklands, or push the Iraqi's out of Kuwait or do practically any military operation launched over the last 72 years, or sit back and do nothing.

 

Carriers and carrier battle groups do not exist because they are going to be dominating elements in a general nuclear war, they exist because almost everything that needs to be done isn't going to involve nukes ... period.  There need to be military options that fall between nukem till they (and we) glow and sitting around helplessly doing nothing.  That is the capability that Aircraft Carriers and their escorts provide and it is and remains vital to our national interests that we have and maintain that capability.  

 

So if you want to talk nukes, great.  The arguments are the same as they were back in the 1950's, nothing new, nothing changed.  

 

 

Edited by BB3_Oregon_Steel

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Except nothing has come yet which has replaced the plane. Not even missiles. In fact, planes are one of the best ways of delivering missiles.

 

Besides, the primary weapon of a carrier group is the carrier. Not the cruisers, not the submarines; the force-projection and long-range suppression tool is the Carrier.

 

It's going to happen sooner or later; Perhaps drones will advance to a point where jets are no longer needed, perhaps it'll be something else, history just keeps repeating itself.

 

Well... that is why we call it a carrier group one would assume :\


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I don't have much to add to the know how or reasons of why a Carriers won't be obsolete any time soon. As others have stated, destroying one would be difficult at best, and impossible for many nations entirely. Are they invincible? No, absolutely not. Will tech be created that counters them? Sure, someday.

 

However, to everyone commenting that armies are built based on the last war, that ignores the fact that the only nation on Earth that has been in a perpetual state of war for nearly its entire existence is the US (whether we call War or not). Since WWII, the US has been involved in one armed conflict or another almost in perpetuity, and the military has been evolving to meet those needs. The fact is that the world views us as a global peacekeeping force for them (barring the dozen or so nations who either want chaos, or want the power the US has). Yes, they complain (looking at you France), but when a problem arises, they usually ask the US for military aid (again looking at you France). That means the military and its components (such as Carriers) have continued to advance and evolve both offensively and defensively to be better protect against incoming attacks, and better destroy what is making those attacks. Again, that doesn't make it invincible, but it does mean that we are less likely to fall into the 'last war' trap. 

 

Personally, the only thing I think could make a carrier partially obsolete would be something like the Tuatha de Dannan from Full Metal Panic. A submersible aircraft carrier capable of reaching targets and launching planes with speed to submerge and escape would be invaluable because it would be nearly impossible to track. That or a space laser a la Hammer of Dawn from Gears of War, but last I checked that doesn't exist except in Bond movies and other sci-fi works. 

 

 

 


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Personally, the only thing I think could make a carrier partially obsolete would be something like the Tuatha de Dannan from Full Metal Panic. A submersible aircraft carrier capable of reaching targets and launching planes with speed to submerge and escape would be invaluable because it would be nearly impossible to track. That or a space laser a la Hammer of Dawn from Gears of War, but last I checked that doesn't exist except in Bond movies and other sci-fi works. 

Personally, I think it's either that or a land-based high-powered laser that bounces the beam off of reflective satellites to hit any target on Earth, Reflex-Gun style. Of course, with treaties preventing orbital bombardment weapons (although, curiously enough, not orbital anti-missile weapons), and the amount of raw power that such a beam would need to function (the most powerful laser in the world is located at the NIF, and it is actually 192 lasers set-up in a RIDICULOUSLY huge facility, which operate for a relatively short period of time) and sustain the beam for more than a few seconds, these are decades away.

 

The Submersible super-carrier is probably more likely.


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 with treaties preventing orbital bombardment weapons

 

Ahh but that's the beauty of kinetic bombardment.... who's to say that those solid tungsten rods were meant as weapons to start with... :hiding:

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I can't believe all of you are assuming miracle weapons such as hypersonic anti-ship ballistic weapons will actually make it to a carrier.

 

I can't believe any of you are failing to take into account the massive amount of crap one would have to go through to get a solid firing solution on a single carrier in a carrier strike group.

 

I suggest you all put down your tinfoil hats and crazy theories, and go look objectively at what tech we have today, right now, fully deployed, and compare that to the rest of the world.

 

And I mean everything. EVERYTHING. Not just the carrier. EVERYTHING.


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Is this thread talking about carriers as a sea power or a mobile air force? Because they're both, and no they're not obsolete at all.


They're expensive? Is that the main argument against them? Yeah they're expensive. Barring nukes a carrier group is one of the single most destructive forces in the world, with great range. The only thing more destructive is the US Air Force.

 

Missiles are NOT a counter to a carrier group. They may be the only possible way to stop them but they're not a counter. Nobody will be successfully attacking a carrier group with another surface group in my lifetime. Missiles will have to be used, and yeah there will be losses but it's not like missiles are some foolproof system.


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And while carrier groups and the US Air Force are the single most destructive conventional forces in the world, it's intelligence that's their true strength. Knowing where the enemy is at all times, having detailed intel on movements, positioning etc. is the key. It's been the key since WW2. Everyone loves to talk about the grand battles of Europe and the Pacific but not many talk about the code-breakers and intel gathering that led to the Allied victory.


Nothing is more important. Nothing.


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And while carrier groups and the US Air Force are the single most destructive conventional forces in the world, it's intelligence that's their true strength. Knowing where the enemy is at all times, having detailed intel on movements, positioning etc. is the key. It's been the key since WW2. Everyone loves to talk about the grand battles of Europe and the Pacific but not many talk about the code-breakers and intel gathering that led to the Allied victory.

 

Nothing is more important. Nothing.

 

With reliable intelligence, one can use even horrendously out-dated technology to secure victory.

 

 


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With reliable intelligence, one can use even horrendously out-dated technology to secure victory.

 

 

 

Yeah, and now pair that superior intelligence with superior firepower and you have an indispensible force. Screw cost, the two combined are more valuable.

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Lemme quote this for emphasis.  Also the USS Independence survived a nuclear blast.  It melted her hull and would have killed everyone on board had there been anyone,  but she still weathered a nuke and kept floating.  The Independence.  Built in 1942.  I dare say we've made some advances in technology since then.

 

Not a good example, USS Princeton(CVL-23), also an Independent Class, was sunk by a single IJN 250kg bomb from a single IJN dive bomber, which was the only carrier sunk by a single bomb during WWII. If the Independence was like the Princeton in war condition loaded with fuels and ammunition, it wouldn't have survived the nuke.

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