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Gerald R. Ford Class CVN

sferrin

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That ackward moment when you realize the USN amphibs have reached such a huge size and tonnage (equalling the Charles de Gaulle or even beyond) the USN has the ultimate luxury of
a) turning the current amphibs into surrogate light carriers using the VSTOL variant of the F-35
b) even better, creating a brand new class of light carriers out of their hulls (*light* being all relative, in the sense of USS Gerald Ford 100 000 tons, 45000 tons is *light* - although it already matches or even dwarf Essex, Clems, Hermes, and very nearly Midways...)

Will this be the *revenge of the CVV* ? back then the USN could argue building them out of thin air was too expensive, plus they encroached on Midway or Forrestal areas.
Nowadays however, Nimitz and Ford have balooned to such tonnages, and amphibs, too... basically a reborn CVV could very nearly being build out of the present amphibs while remaining small enough not to *bother* the Nimitz and Fords in overall capability... and cost.

Makes one think.
More like 80,000-82,000 full load for Forrestals
81,000 - 84,000 for Kitty Hawks/JFK
95,000 for Enterprise (CVN-65)
100,000-104,000 for Nimitz class. About the same for Ford.
ALL are considered "supercarriers".
Full load displacement on commissioning, data for the first three carriers from various editions of Jane's Fighting Ships:

CV(A) 60 Saratoga, 1956, 75,000 tons
CV(A)N 65 Enterprise, 1961, 85,530 tons
CVN 68 Nimitz, 1975, 90,944 tons

They have put on weight since commissioning.

CVN 78 Gerald R. Ford, 2017, 97,000 tons (https://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=4200&tid=200&ct=4)
Yes, for additional systems/capability. Doesn't change the fact that the basic requirements have been almost the same for what, 70 years? To say that lately carriers have been getting heavier, when the last light carrier was commissioned 70 years ago, is ridiculous.
 

sferrin

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If one accepts that the main role of the US carrier fleet is to break China's protective ring of missiles and islands, itself a depressing thought, the giant lumbering CVNs with their feeble air groups do not seem up to the job.
Against Putin's still largely Cold War era fleet, I see even less work for them. SSNs can tackle the few big surface units and hunt the subs.
After those two, no other countries have navies that even a single RN Astute could not disable Belgrano style.
Fantasy fleet is the right comment
What is a better solution than "lumbering" CVNs?
 

Grey Havoc

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Heavy Guided Missile Cruiser, Nuclear; Battlecruiser, Guided Missile, Nuclear.
 

Arjen

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Yes, for additional systems/capability. Doesn't change the fact that the basic requirements have been almost the same for what, 70 years? To say that lately carriers have been getting heavier, when the last light carrier was commissioned 70 years ago, is ridiculous.
I think additional and almost the same are mutually exclusive.
 

uk 75

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Sferrin Back in the 50s the USN gave up long range supersonic strikers like the Vigilante in favour of Polaris. War with China as with the Soviets means nuclear. I would keep the CVNs but beef up their airgroups with an updated A12 penetrator and an updated F14 able to shoot down missiles. Or avoid picking the fight
 

sferrin

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Yes, for additional systems/capability. Doesn't change the fact that the basic requirements have been almost the same for what, 70 years? To say that lately carriers have been getting heavier, when the last light carrier was commissioned 70 years ago, is ridiculous.
I think additional and almost the same are mutually exclusive.
Yes and no. Air wing size requirement is roughly the same. (Ability to support ~90-ish aircraft.) What that equates to, and what it takes to support that number of more capable aircraft has changed. Still, that's not something that is a recent development.
 

sferrin

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Sferrin Back in the 50s the USN gave up long range supersonic strikers like the Vigilante in favour of Polaris. War with China as with the Soviets means nuclear. I would keep the CVNs but beef up their airgroups with an updated A12 penetrator and an updated F14 able to shoot down missiles. Or avoid picking the fight
So your "replacement" for the CVN is a CVN with a better air wing? And,"avoid picking a fight"? Seriously?
 
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sferrin

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Heavy Guided Missile Cruiser, Nuclear; Battlecruiser, Guided Missile, Nuclear.
I used to think the logical carrier replacement would be something like a nuclear powered Iowa (in size/displacement only) with 1000-mile range railguns throwing ordinance instead of planes carrying it. Problem is your "JDAM" either gets really expensive or it's trivial to shoot down. Also such a ship is completely useless for controlling airspace or encouraging other parties to behave. Furthermore it's every bit as vulnerable as a carrier.
 

uk 75

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Sferrin Back in the 50s the USN gave up long range supersonic strikers like the Vigilante in favour of Polaris. War with China as with the Soviets means nuclear. I would keep the CVNs but beef up their airgroups with an updated A12 penetrator and an updated F14 able to shoot down missiles. Or avoid picking the fight
So your "replacement" for the CVN is a CVN with a better air wing? And,"avoid picking a fight"? Seriously?
Neither option is likely nor practicable. A US President is therefore in a hard place. Long range airpower is not much of a better option.
Guess that if the Chinese were to close the seas to USN either for Taiwan invasion or just to keep US out we are talking Trident strikes
 

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Given all their efforts at it, I think it is proper to be worried about ballistic anti ship missiles. However, before I throw away the carriers, I would like to see an end-to-end test against a maneuvering target 1000 miles off the coast. If you can do that reliably, then I would imagine any ship is vulnerable (not just carriers). If the flight profile of one of these missiles is more like a MARV as opposed to a hypersonic glide vehicle, the SM3 should be able to go after it before it re-enters the atmosphere. After that, it will have to be something evolved out of a hypersonic defense interceptor.

I was wondering how the terminal attack guidance works anyways. Onboard sensors would have to work in extreme heat or it would need real time homing updates from a space based sensor.
 

sferrin

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Given all their efforts at it, I think it is proper to be worried about ballistic anti ship missiles.
They're no more scary today than swarms of P-700s and Kh-22s were in the 80s.

However, before I throw away the carriers, I would like to see an end-to-end test against a maneuvering target 1000 miles off the coast. If you can do that reliably, then I would imagine any ship is vulnerable (not just carriers).
Ships have been vulnerable since the first mounted a cannon on it. Navies didn't fold up their tents and go home. The hysteria around "carrier killers" is idiotic. Does anybody think a D-21 (which has yet to demonstrate the ability to hit a moving target I might add) is more of a threat than regiment of Kh-22-armed Backfires possibly armed with nukes? Or a couple Oscars firing waves of supersonic P-700s? This back in the pre-VLS days.
 

sferrin

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Sferrin Back in the 50s the USN gave up long range supersonic strikers like the Vigilante in favour of Polaris. War with China as with the Soviets means nuclear. I would keep the CVNs but beef up their airgroups with an updated A12 penetrator and an updated F14 able to shoot down missiles. Or avoid picking the fight
So your "replacement" for the CVN is a CVN with a better air wing? And,"avoid picking a fight"? Seriously?
Neither option is likely nor practicable. A US President is therefore in a hard place. Long range airpower is not much of a better option.
Guess that if the Chinese were to close the seas to USN either for Taiwan invasion or just to keep US out we are talking Trident strikes
So your solution is cede the entire West Pacific to China? Doesn't sound like much of a plan.
 

uk 75

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To take the heat of this exchange I will switch to asking questions:
How many Carriers could the US send to the Western Pacific?
What is their capability to take on China?
 

sferrin

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To take the heat of this exchange I will switch to asking questions:
How many Carriers could the US send to the Western Pacific?
What is their capability to take on China?
You're the one saying CVNs are obsolete. You still haven't suggested a replacement. Let's get THAT out of the way first.
 

uk 75

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Sferrin I know I am old but I cannot find where I wrote CVNs are obsolete. My confusion is about the limited capability of its airgroup. As I wrote above,CVNs made sense when they had Cold War air group. But if all the US is going to put on new ships are F35s and helos.. Now I know the CVNs have a 40year or more life. So, yes you might as well build them instead of smaller carriers. But are you really happy with having a feeble air group?
 

sferrin

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Sferrin I know I am old but I cannot find where I wrote CVNs are obsolete. My confusion is about the limited capability of its airgroup. As I wrote above,CVNs made sense when they had Cold War air group. But if all the US is going to put on new ships are F35s and helos.. Now I know the CVNs have a 40year or more life. So, yes you might as well build them instead of smaller carriers. But are you really happy with having a feeble air group?
Whoops. Apologies. Yeah, the USN has kinda screwed the pooch when it comes to their air wings. A carrier is only as good as it's air wing. That said, they're hardly sitting ducks as some would have us believe.
 

uk 75

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I agree that there is no point in building smaller carriers. None of the ones suggested above would add much, better to keep them for the Marines as they need dock ships.
With that out of the way, I still think you need a better air group
 

sferrin

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I agree that there is no point in building smaller carriers. None of the ones suggested above would add much, better to keep them for the Marines as they need dock ships.
With that out of the way, I still think you need a better air group
For sure. The F-35C is a good Legacy Hornet replacement but they really need a true A-6 & F-14 replacement. That A/FX would be pretty useful about now.
afx_lockheed_boeing_gd_02.jpg
 

kaiserd

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Given all their efforts at it, I think it is proper to be worried about ballistic anti ship missiles.
They're no more scary today than swarms of P-700s and Kh-22s were in the 80s.

However, before I throw away the carriers, I would like to see an end-to-end test against a maneuvering target 1000 miles off the coast. If you can do that reliably, then I would imagine any ship is vulnerable (not just carriers).
Ships have been vulnerable since the first mounted a cannon on it. Navies didn't fold up their tents and go home. The hysteria around "carrier killers" is idiotic. Does anybody think a D-21 (which has yet to demonstrate the ability to hit a moving target I might add) is more of a threat than regiment of Kh-22-armed Backfires possibly armed with nukes? Or a couple Oscars firing waves of supersonic P-700s? This back in the pre-VLS days.
The potential difference is that Backfires armed with nuclear tipped Kitchens would have certainly killed US supercarriers but this would have almost certainly escalated to a general nuclear exchange and the end of humanity.

Potential Chinese conventional D-21 attacks against the carriers complicates and potentially deters “aggressive” deployment of US supercarriers as a counter to potential Chinese moves such as re: Taiwan.
Almost irrespective of the airgroup composition it is hard to see how the carrier can itself “outrange” such a threat with sufficient “weight of fire” if such a threat is perfected and then develops (longer range, larger numbers, more robust survivable tracking and targeting complex, etc.).
It’s not that carriers lose their utility or suddenly become obsolete, it’s that the assumptions of what they can realistically do and against whom may need to be recalibrated.
Fantasies of aggressively “going after” the Chinese equivalents of the Kola Peninsula or similar rehashing of old war plans perhaps need to be out to one side.
 

uk 75

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I think there is a danger of overloading this thread. I am guilty of enlarging it by raising China as the successor to the old Soviet Union.
A crisis where China uses D21s to sink or disable a CVN has already got out of control.
But before you get there,there is the issue of rights of navigation and passage in the West Pacific and SouthChina Sea. This had no parallel in the Cold War. The USN will need its carriers long before any shooting starts.
Crisis management will then be a matter of war or peace.
 

fredymac

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The potential difference is that Backfires armed with nuclear tipped Kitchens would have certainly killed US supercarriers but this would have almost certainly escalated to a general nuclear exchange and the end of humanity.

Potential Chinese conventional D-21 attacks against the carriers complicates and potentially deters “aggressive” deployment of US supercarriers as a counter to potential Chinese moves such as re: Taiwan.
Almost irrespective of the airgroup composition it is hard to see how the carrier can itself “outrange” such a threat with sufficient “weight of fire” if such a threat is perfected and then develops (longer range, larger numbers, more robust survivable tracking and targeting complex, etc.).
It’s not that carriers lose their utility or suddenly become obsolete, it’s that the assumptions of what they can realistically do and against whom may need to be recalibrated.
Fantasies of aggressively “going after” the Chinese equivalents of the Kola Peninsula or similar rehashing of old war plans perhaps need to be out to one side.

Air launched conventional anti ship cruise missiles weren't part of the Russian inventory? Possible but I would be surprised.

A ballistic anti ship missile reaching out thousands of miles and striking a moving target will require a complex command and control system along with space based sensors. Similar in nature and scale to a missile defense system. Just as US testing of missile defense technology requires extensive and repeated tests, so too will any demonstration of this capability. It is odd that the critical space assets to perform this function have not been detected let alone demonstrated.

Fantasy is believing that counter strikes on military installations firing on your ships is prohibited. US carrier operations are limited to international waters. Just as they were when they were "forward deployed" in the North Atlantic.
 

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I agree that there is no point in building smaller carriers. None of the ones suggested above would add much, better to keep them for the Marines as they need dock ships.
With that out of the way, I still think you need a better air group
For sure. The F-35C is a good Legacy Hornet replacement but they really need a true A-6 & F-14 replacement. That A/FX would be pretty useful about now.
View attachment 628739
Well we know what happened to the A-12.
 

rooster

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This may be off topic, but the comment about the carrier being only as good as the air wings seems spot on. why did the navy throw away airpower? No stealth fighters yet in service some 40 years after the advent of stealth? The f35c is not hardly being produced in numbers. Ngad is still a paper aiirplane. The a12 was fixable from what I read. Were they counting on the quantity of superhornets being able to make up its shortcomings? Navair used to amazing when I was a kid and you saw a7s and tomcats and intruders all on the decks. Seems like another example of the US throwing away what other nations could only dream of achieving. Now we are steering into an all f35c fleet.
 

sferrin

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Air launched conventional anti ship cruise missiles weren't part of the Russian inventory?
Of course they were. AS-2s, AS-4s, AS-6s, AS-15s. All air-launched, conventional antiship missiles (which also had the nuclear option). That doesn't count the newer post-Cold War stuff.
 

sferrin

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I agree that there is no point in building smaller carriers. None of the ones suggested above would add much, better to keep them for the Marines as they need dock ships.
With that out of the way, I still think you need a better air group
For sure. The F-35C is a good Legacy Hornet replacement but they really need a true A-6 & F-14 replacement. That A/FX would be pretty useful about now.
View attachment 628739
Well we know what happened to the A-12.
And we know what happened to the F-111B but that didn't prevent the existence of the Tomcat.
 

uk 75

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I think the interval between 1991and 2001 accounts for the demise of the potent USN airgroups. There was no enemy force in being to justify anything more potent than Hornet.
The War on Terror compounded this. Mudmoving became the main duty of carriers.
It was similar to the RAF in the 1920s.
The emerging capability of China to counter US activity in the western Pacific and the Putin build up of Russian naval operations require a return to a muscular airgroup.
 

rooster

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I think the interval between 1991and 2001 accounts for the demise of the potent USN airgroups. There was no enemy force in being to justify anything more potent than Hornet.
The War on Terror compounded this. Mudmoving became the main duty of carriers.
It was similar to the RAF in the 1920s.
The emerging capability of China to counter US activity in the western Pacific and the Putin build up of Russian naval operations require a return to a muscular airgroup.
I agree with that, or see the logic, but what about the previous 20 years? Did no one think ahead or was this our illustrious leaders handicapping us? Why did we build a platform like the Ford for an all f35 fleet? We were planning on the platform for something larger than the f35 but not building anything but the f35.
 

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The USN's Silent Service is not what it was either, so solely relying on them would probably not be a good idea.
How so? I thought they were the only part of the USN which hasn't completely FUBARed procurement of new ships/boats/aircraft/whatever.
 

uk 75

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Rooster As has been pointed out already here, the air group is about 90 aircraft. That is why you have a large platform. The nuclear bit gives it endurance etc. There would be no advantage in having a smaller carrier. Even the UK has learnt that lesson.
The air group composition has never been easy. Trading off strike capability against fleet asw and air defence. In the 60s the US could afford to use Essex class as ASW platforms but by the 70s the attack carriers CVANs had embarked an ASW air group and became CVNs.
Smaller carriers may give you more numbers but usually this does not happen. The RN was originally supposed to have 6 Invincibles. It built three but often only one was in service..
 

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Depends on what "ending at 4" means. The Kitty Hawk was a new class but owed a lot to the Forrestal, and JFK was was different enough to earn a subclass label. Such an evolution after 4 hulls would make sense, if properly done. But it could easily be a debacle, and the current leadership in the Navy, DoD, and Admin don't fill me with confidence.
 

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"May". When the time comes, and they weigh all the options (again) they'll keep building them.
 

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The funny thing is, this issue might finally get people to see the problems clearly. The toilets clogging isn't a failure of the CVN concept or the CVN-78's general requirements as laid out way back when. It's a failure to manage the program properly, and to ensure that the millions of "small" decisions that go into a carrier are being made for good reasons, based on good knowledge and/or data.
 

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Failure to implement sufficient testing. They probably just assumed that it's the 21st century and people know how to make a toilet.
 
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