What is the future for U.S. strategic control of the Pacific Rim? How can we plan for this with the current budget troubles?
Part 1- Strategic Strike for Anti-Access Threats
I propose that we cannot afford 15 billion dollar Ford class carriers with crews of 4600 (not counting the escorts) that have obsolete aircraft in the air wing that are unable to take on anti-access threats. Manpower costs as well as faulty weapons system program management eats our budget alive.
We need to have a more balanced and affordable approach to how we deal with Pacific Rim high end threats for both sea control and strategic conventional strike. I suggest that our two most important platforms that we grow are the Virginia class submarine and the long range bomber.
We can keep B-52s flying as long as we have smart engineers. Dirt cheap. I suggest that we get the Tomahawk Block 4 certified on the B-52. That along with improving the reliability of JASSM will give us versatility. The long range bomber gives us the ability to strike within a very short time span of the start of hostilities; including rinse and repeat over days.
The Virginias have the ability to keep a variety of enemy targets at risk inside the boat’s area of influence. The Virginias and long range bomber offer affordable balance. No, it isn’t perfect balance. It certainly beats the delusion of strategic thinking like this.
So what about carriers? Yes we still need them. But like the B-52, as long as we have engineers we can still refurb the ones we have.
Maybe when we have a stable economy we can branch out. Until then, we have to plan for worst-case budget scenarios.