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Gerald R. Ford Class CVN

Grey Havoc

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WASHINGTON – An internal Office of the Secretary of Defense assessment calls for the Navy to cut two aircraft carriers from its fleet, freeze the large surface combatant fleet of destroyers and cruisers around current levels and add dozens of unmanned or lightly manned ships to the inventory, according to documents obtained by Defense News.

The study calls for a fleet of nine carriers, down from the current fleet of 11, and for 65 unmanned or lightly manned surface vessels. The study calls for a surface force of between 80 and 90 large surface combatants, and an increase in the number of small surface combatants – between 55 and 70, which is substantially more than the Navy currently operates.

The assessment is part of an ongoing DoD-wide review of Navy force structure and seem to echo what Defense Secretary Mark Esper has been saying for months: the Defense Department wants to begin de-emphasizing aircraft carriers as the centerpiece of the Navy's force projection and put more emphasis on unmanned technologies that can be more easily sacrificed in a conflict and can achieve their missions more affordably.
Sounds like a recipe for (further) disaster.
 

rooster

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That's disturbing. Don't we only have 10 carrier battle groups now? But I'm just a fanboy so...
 

In_A_Dream

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That's disturbing. Don't we only have 10 carrier battle groups now? But I'm just a fanboy so...
China isn't going to give us much of a choice further down the road. They know the importance of carriers to the US and cheap unmanned submersibles/aircraft are a great way to keep them as far away from the SCS as possible.
 

Moose

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I think I've come around to the CSBA idea of replacing the LHD/As, as they retire, with a medium carrier. They can be "lightning carriers," ASW carriers, or assault carriers as needed while definitively jettisoning the well deck roles.
Didn't they mainly propose just redesignating the LHA(R)s as CVEs? Without a pretty expensive VSTOL aircraft development program, they'd be awfully limited.
No, their plan was ultimately to produce a conventional medium carrier. There would be a transition as the existing LHAs were used more extensively in the "lightning carrier" role. But they were aiming for an angled flight deck and catapults on something slightly smaller than the brits' CVF, or similar to a fully modernized Midway. The Marines' STOVL F-35s and Navy/Marine CATOBAR F-35s could operate alongside each other in an air wing.
Ok. I came across the synopsis of a 2005 proposal that has the redesignation bit.

This is the study I was referring to [PDF warning] for reference/comparison. I was wrong, btw, they actually have 12 CVNs and 10 "CVLs"
The 4-ship ARG would consist of a CVL, an LPD, and two LX(R)s. The CVL would initially be a
legacy LHA/LHD but would eventually be replaced by a purpose-built 40,000- to 60,000-ton
CVL with catapults and arresting gear. The CVL would carry twenty to thirty primarily fixed-wing
aircraft to exploit the stealth and C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers,
Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) capability of the F-35B. The rotary-wing
aircraft displaced from the LHA/LHD would go to a small-deck amphibious ship (LPD or LX(R))
added to the current 3-ship ARG. The CVL air wing would focus on SUW, strike, and CAS
missions. The LPDs and LX(R)s would conduct SUW as well as amphibious operations using
their attack helicopters and the long-range surface-to-surface missiles in VLS magazines. With
a VLS magazine, small-deck amphibious ships would also be able to employ medium-range air
defense interceptors such as ESSM to improve their staying power in a contested area.
The proposed fleet architecture adds to today’s CVNs smaller conventionally powered CVLs of 40,000 to 60,000 tons that would be incorporated into ARGs as part of the Deterrence Force. CVLs would provide power projection and sea control capabilities at the scale needed for day-to-day operations and for SUW, strike, and CAS as part of initial combat, freeing CVNs to focus on high-end integrated multi-carrier operations as part of the Maneuver Force or the Northern Europe Deterrence Force.

In the near-term, existing LHA/LHD amphibious assault ships would be employed as CVLs using a loadout of twenty to twenty-five F-35B aircraft.67 As they reach the end of their service life, LHA/LHD-derived CVLs would be replaced by purpose-built CVLs with a displacement similar to a Cold War-era Midway-class aircraft carrier and equipped with catapults and arresting gear.68 As a result, CVL air wings would be able to become slightly larger and incorporate airborne electronic attack (AEA) and airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft that are catapult-launched and require an arrested landing.
One of the authors of this study has a twitter thread that covers a bit of the plan's reasoning and why he (much like myself) is concerned by the leaked CVN reduction plan.
 

sferrin

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Grey Havoc

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Why do I get the feeling the new SecNav may not last that long?
 

Moose

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Some "acting" officers in the current Administration have longer tenures than some of the high-profile confirmed.
 
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