How many Aircraft Carriers do you think the U.S. (or any nation) needs to maintain military superiority worldwide?
My cousin, who has recently taken a hardline “hate-anything-Obama-does” stance because he’s PO’d his taxes will go up (he is in the 2%) posted an article that was basically complaining about our governments current outlook with aircraft carriers.
The Enterprise was just officially retired this month (it was the oldest carrier in the fleet, and the only one not of the Nimitz class, our current most advanced class). They also have recalled the Eisenhower from the Persian Gulf (breaking long standing policy of having 2 carriers there at all times) for a 2 month retrofit and shore leave.
My argument was that the US has 10 active carrier groups (small fleets that support the carrier + the carrier itself), plus an additional 9 Amphibious Assault Ships that are basically small carriers that are more focused on emergency troop deployments via helicopter. On top of that, should the worst happen and all sh*t hit the fan, there are 12 retired US carriers that could be impressed back into service, needing various states of retrofitting that could take them from 30 days to a year + to be in working condition. Eight of those retired carriers are currently being used as museums, or are already members of the “reserve” fleet (which means they should be in battle condition within 60 days). On top of that, the latest class of US aircraft carrier should start rolling out next year or in 2014, and it’s even larger/more advanced than the existing Nimitz class.
So how many carriers do we really need in our fleet to secure the entire world? Ignoring for the moment that our grounded Air Force is capable of hitting anywhere on the planet, almost strictly from continental US bases, let alone worldwide bases…. I’m open to the idea of having at least one carrier in every ocean and trouble spot, but at what point are we just wasting our money on overkill, especially in times such as now where our budget is such a concern?
The estimate is that each carrier group costs roughly $300 million per year to operate (all costs included). That’s 3 billion/year, before you pay for a retrofit (usually over 2 billion per carrier).
For comparison, the entirety of the rest of the world has eleven active aircraft carriers. The largest of those foreign carriers is just over half the size of the 10 Nimitz carriers we have in service today, most of them come in around 1/5 the size. Most of our retired carriers are still larger than any foreign carrier, or at least roughly the same size. No foreign nation has more than two aircraft carriers.
Exactly how many aircraft carriers should our fleet have? How many do we need to secure waters across the planet?