Aircraft Carriers, specifically American aircraft carriers, seem to be taking quite a thrashing these days in the press.
Some claim they are old and obsolete—no better than all of those expensive Battleships at the end of Wor...—destined for the scrapper.
Others argue they are undefendable, thanks to the proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles all over the globe—heck, even non-state actors can get their hands on such weapons these days.
Some say they are just too expensive, in fact, the most costly weapon of war serving in not only the U.S. military arsenal but in any armed forces on the planet today—ripe for cutting in an era of lean defense budgets.
But is the era of the flattop really over?
Looking at the headlines, and with no context provided, one could easily argue U.S. carriers are actually more vital than ever. They have been a critical component of almost every major combat operation going back to World War II and form of a big part of today’s kinetic actions against the Islamic State as well as provide important deterrent value—just recently Washington sent two carriers in a show of resolve to .... America’s Presidents don’t ask where the carriers are when a crisis is brewing for nothing.
But here is where things get tricky. What happens when a big international incident breaks out against a major, great-power competitor such as Russia, China or even Iran, who have the capability to fire massive amounts of long-range anti-ship weapons at American flattops? It's easy to send a carrier against ISIS or an enemy who simply can’t fire back. What happens when that's no longer the case?
There is where things get even trickier. The most obvious solution would be just to get out of the way—essentially launch your attack aircraft from well out of the range of such missiles, avoiding the problem all together. Unfortunately for Pentagon planners, this is not an option anymore as U.S. planes simply can’t fly at the ranges needed.
Depends on whether you want a bullet magnet for a false flag attack to start something larger...