Luckily our region is so peaceful and there are no threats of any kind anywhere

Just something to help you sleep peacefully at night, from a post titled, “These Rumors of a Nine-Carrier Navy? Over the Long Term, They Could Be Off by Nine:

News reports indicate the U.S. Navy could eliminate one of its 10 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers starting in 2015. And according to one prominent naval writer, that single cut should be the beginning of a slow process of completely axing the giant ships from the American fleet.

“The nation must plan a graceful transition that stops building carriers, plans a path for those already built to see them through their service life and creates new means of operational effectiveness in the future,” Capt. Henry Hendrix, an historian and strategist, wrote in a 2013 study for the Center for a New American Security think tank.

The main reason is simple: money. Unless budgets increase, carriers somehow get cheaper or the Pentagon makes deep cuts elsewhere, the Navy cannot afford to maintain today’s 10-flattop force—to say nothing of the 11 carriers it’s required by law to have over the long term.

Hence the recent news that the Navy might propose an early retirement for the 22-year-old flattop USS George Washington—subject to the president’s approval and Congress’ appropriation, of course. And whether or not the sailing branch decommissions George Washington, it’s already planning on keeping just two carriers deployed at a time, down from three or four.

[From Small Dead Animals.]

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30 Responses to Luckily our region is so peaceful and there are no threats of any kind anywhere

  1. srr

    So….this is or isn’t relevant, related news?


    Obama pivot to Asia faces setback

    Matthew Pennington
    AAP
    February 01, 2014 4:39PM

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama’s foreign policy pivot to Asia took a hit this week, and it came from a stalwart of his own party.

    The top Democratic senator, Harry Reid, says he opposes legislation that’s key to a trans-Pacific trade pact that’s arguably the most important part of Obama’s effort to step up American engagement in Asia.

    Since Obama rolled out the policy, most attention has been on the military aspect, largely because it was billed as a rebalance in US priorities after a decade of costly war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    But officials have increasingly stressed the pivot is about more than military and cementing America’s stature as the pre-eminent power in the Asia-Pacific as China grows in strength.

    It’s about capitalising on the region’s rapid economic growth.

    Hence the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, an ambitious free trade agreement being negotiated by 12 nations including Japan that account for some 40 per cent of global gross domestic product.

    The Obama administration’s Asia policy has been welcomed by countries leery of China’s rise and expansive territorial claims.

    RTWT

  2. stackja

    USA did not have a threat on the 6th of December 1941 in our region and all was peaceful.

  3. Demosthenes

    This is the right move by the USN. Carriers have been diminishing in military importance, and bang-for-buck, for about 30 years. This trend will continue, so it makes sense to slowly bring down the number in line with their operational effectiveness.

  4. tfx

    Agree with Demosthenes.

    The technology of missiles has moved very quickly in terms of price and effectiveness and rendered aircraft carriers nearly as obsolescent as battleships.

  5. In all realities the giant US Military machine is probably going to face even greater asset loss in future as their budget reality becomes more and more pressing.

    Even a carrier force of 5 would still see them have the most powerful navy afloat, and even without their aircraft carrier assets the USN would still be more than a match for any other navy in the world.

    It will be more interesting to see what other cuts are pencilled in for future years.

  6. srr

    Oh dear….


    Carr offers government advice on China

    AAP
    February 01, 2014 5:57PM

    WHAT’S the difference between a best friend, an oldest friend and your closest friend?

    Quite a bit in the tricky world of diplomacy, where the choice of words can mean the difference between a compliment and a snub.

    Former foreign minister Bob Carr seems to think the Abbott government is in need of a few lessons, warning it risks offending China if it keeps up its recent form on the world stage.

    Mr Carr said since the election, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had described Japan – which is engaged in a row with China over a territorial dispute – as “our best friend in Asia”.

    But until now, Mr Carr said foreign ministers had described Japan as Australia’s “oldest friend” in Asia, or that it had “no closer” friends.

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott went further in late November when he described Australia as “a strong ally of Japan”.

    “We are not officially allies,” Mr Carr wrote in The Australian Financial Review on Saturday, adding Australia had previously referred to Japan as “friend” or “partner”.

    Mr Carr warned such signals sent the wrong message to a country with whom Australia wants to sign a free trade agreement within a year.

    It was “hardly cutting-edge diplomacy” for Ms Bishop to use a trip to Washington to declare China counted less when it came to trade and investment than the US, he said.

    “My reading of China is that they accept Australia as a close ally of the US and that we will always be drawn to America,” said Mr Carr, who resigned as a Labor senator in October.

    “But they seem to want that we not shove this fact quite so squarely in their face.”

    He also criticised the government for overlooking two “measured options” for dealing with China’s declaration of a no-fly zone in November.

    Ms Bishop was publicly upbraided by her Chinese counterpart for “irresponsible” comments when she voiced concerns about the air-defence zone declared over a disputed island chain.

  7. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Sorry guys, I am not being rude when I say you have no idea.

    The CVN is a platform for its aircraft – just the cheapest (for certain values of ‘cheap’) way of getting a floating base for 90 acft which is pretty much the minimum number you need to make any second tier nation sit up and take notice. In saying the CVN is ‘obsolescent’, you’re saying acft are obsolescent. This is demonstrably not so.

    They are also major power and C3I nodes in a subsurface, surface, air and space network,’realising’ the combat side of that network with ‘bombs on target on time’. Bombs meaning ordnance of any kind.

    They are few and expensive because it’s a damned expensive game and I don’t mean the money to buy carriers and CAGs, I mean the skillset they took 70 years to develop. No-one is sure if they can maintain that skillset with just 2 CVN at sea.

    The money’s a side issue. The USA’s borrowing $2Bn a day to squander on welfare and cocking up the US economy. That’s a carrier’s cost every ten days (with plenty of change left over).

    Sure CVN becoming a baroque weapons system, to quote Pugh (The Cost of Sea Power: The Influence of Money on Naval Affairs from 1815 to the Present Day , Conway, 1986 – well worth reading, one copy cheap here, the book is becoming rare and expensive)

    All naval weapons systems pass through this cost-utility heat death. That’s why the current proliferation of LHD with helos and small numbers of STOVL fixed-wing.

    But you cannot be the dominant naval power with such ships. That demands carriers. When they go, a mix of small LHD/CVL, surface shooters and land-based air will be the dominant system and he whosoever hath the best network will win most engagements but won’t be able to dominate.

    this is a return to an 18th century strategic structure. In such a structure, the Great Powers dominate the small. We are a small power.

    Now you know why the region is gunning up as fast as they possibly can.

  8. Baldrick

    Perhaps there is peace in the Asian region because of the USA’s 10 nuclear carrier policy.
    Can anybody guarantee there will be ‘peace in our time’ with an 8 or 9 USA carrier policy?

  9. Mk, of-course aircraft carriers are not obsolete, will future developments in aircraft technology they’re likely to become more effective not less.

    But the reality is the USN is going to face significant budget pressures in coming years, and the likely target of those cuts are going to be its aircraft carrier fleet. Simply because no other navy in the world has a real carrier force worth mentioning. The USAF has conducted round-the-globe bombing missions from its current bases so there will be an argument that the potential loss of strike capability can be mitigated through better use of their external bases. The US Congress is also quite unlikely to vote for abolishing the entire USN carrier fleet but may be swayed to give up some older carriers for a lesser number of newer larger ones.

    As for Asia arming-up, they’re not silly, many of them have been victims of military expansionism in the past and aren’t too keen on repeating the experience. We should be taking some heed of that.

  10. pseudonym

    > The technology of missiles has moved very quickly in terms of price and effectiveness and rendered aircraft carriers nearly as obsolescent as battleships.

    Not sure about that.

    It comes down to the effectiveness of countermeasures. For instance, there are now advanced decoy systems (like the Australian designed Nulka rocket), in addition to the traditional use of chaff, which are intended to confuse incoming missiles. Also, more ships are being built with “stealth” features, which presumably makes them harder to target. More generally, carriers are typically escorted by cruisers and destroyers which use the Aegis area defence system to keep missile launch aircraft at bay (and which can also fire on missiles to some extent). Then there are the various point-defence missile systems (eg Rolling Airframe Missile), backed by CIWS, which are intended to shoot down incoming missiles.

    Then, of course, the anti-ship missile designers try to come up with ways to defeat such countermeasures – I don’t know the state of play on that.

    I believe that the US Navy puts a lot of effort into wargaming and, since they continue to operate carriers, probably they think that the missile threat is tolerable.

    Anyway, I would have thought that carriers are much more vulnerable to attack from submarines. During recent fleet exercises, there have been a number of occasions when the US Navy has been surprised by simulated submarine attack. Probably, the most embarrassing episode was when, a few years ago, a Chinese submarine surfaced quite close to a US Navy carrier in the middle of a major exercise!

    By the way, if you are interested in defence issues, this guy writes some interesting stuff:

    http://futuredefensevisions.blogspot.com.au/

  11. Alfonso

    The theory of carrier advantage matters not….the US is able to afford them because they get to print the world’s reserve currency on a Xerox at will in any amount. It won’t last. Neither will the US treaty / kinship will to defend Australia.

    Australian plans to nuc up must be flowing apace at DoD…..presuming competence rather than correctness…..a big assumption.

  12. james

    There are no effective counter measures to missiles for ships.

    There are a number of incredibly expensive boondoggles that claim to be counter measures, none can stop long range shore based missiles.

    Either come up with something effective or find another way to project force.

    The current discussion is ever so slightly reminiscent of the naval chiefs boasting about their big battleships right before WW2.

  13. Combine_Dave

    As for Asia arming-up, they’re not silly, many of them have been victims of military expansionism in the past and aren’t too keen on repeating the experience. We should be taking some heed of that.

    In deed. Look at China and their recent military modernisation to protect themselves (and credibly threaten to invade Taiwan) from Japan, USA and other western powers.

    Australia would do well to do the same. Else we will be playing second fiddle to Indon.

    Try turning back the boats then.

  14. blogstrop

    All part of Obama’s plan to nobble America.

  15. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    james:

    There are a number of incredibly expensive boondoggles that claim to be counter measures, none can stop long range shore based missiles.

    Apologies, but this is incorrect. The ‘doyen’ of current long ranged anti-ship missiles are things like the SS-N-22 ‘Sunburn’. Nasty bugger, final attack is at altitude 5-20m (seastate dependent) and 30 miles a minute. It’s not a particularly hard target for an electronic scan radar but it’s mighty fast and gives you little reaction time. The AN/SPY-1 Radar, MK 99 Fire Control System, Weapon Control System, Command and Decision Suite, and SM-2 SAM in Mk41 VLS can deal with this with bells on.

    So the ‘very fast sea skimmer’ is a manageable threat. Fast and nasty and God help you if you have a bad day, but manageable.

    SS-N-27 (Novatar Alpha or Klub series: 3M-54E, 3M-54E1, 3M-14E, 91RE1 and 91RE2) are a nasty variant and harder to deal with in final attack (much easier to deal with in cruise-to-attack phase, though) as the warhead is reputed to be a supersonic, accelerating, manouevering sea skimmer with some reports saying it’s RCS reduced as well. I believe the SPY-1 version 3 upgrades can deal with this little bugger in final attack.

    The ‘old’ missiles exemplified by AS-6 Kingfish (Raduga KSR-5 family) are zenith attack weapons. Mighty fast, but as they have much larger vulnerability envelopes you have to use a lot of them to swamp SPY-1 fitted groups – and remember, Aegis links all the SPY fitted ships (and aircraft and everything else you can think of) and they fight as a coordinated whole.

    Now we have a new genration, the first of which is the DF-21D (CSS-5 Mod-4) anti-ship ballistic missile, which uses a kinetic penetrator, not a warhead. This the version 3 and a new Standard variant (RIM-161) is intended to meet this missile, with lasers taking over final defence as the penetrator closes from zenith at very high speed. However, that also makes it vulnerable. Anything solid hitting it releases immense energies and may turn it into a ball of plasma, and will certainly kick it way out of its targeting basket parameters. What DF-21D does is tell us that the Chinese are thinking about moving to space-based weapons which currently exist in Sci-fi – KEW (Kinetic Energy Weapons) AKA ‘kinetic harpoons’. These are simply a steel rod with ablative shielding, control surfaces and some form of guidance package BUT they can’t have a terminal guidance system within the range of current technology. They come in so quick (mach 15-30, meteoric re-entry speeds) that they have sheath of ionised plasma around them no signal can get through. Massive energy release on impact in the kiloton range but of course not nuclear. Maybe 20-40 years away?

  16. Combine_Dave

    MK50,

    I take it Australia has no current plans to develop such a weapon ahead of our allies & rivals in the region?

  17. Go Tiges

    It’s not a particularly hard target for an electronic scan radar but it’s mighty fast and gives you little reaction time. The AN/SPY-1 Radar, MK 99 Fire Control System, Weapon Control System, Command and Decision Suite, and SM-2 SAM in Mk41 VLS can deal with this with bells on.

    And that’s the problem. The ship has to have all these systems and they all have to be working. Even then it might have to cope with multiple missile and torpedo attack. The attackers only have to be lucky once. The defenders have to be lucky all the time. This is why I reckon big ships should be phased out. If they’re hit, you’ve lost 350+ (on the latest cruiser we’re getting) highly skilled people plus the $1b ship. Now matter how good a big ship is it can only be in one place at a time. The old HMAS Jervis Bay fast cat we had for Timor is what we need, especially given the coastline we have to cover. Heaps of them fitted for mischief. Guns, intel, helos, torpedoes and missiiles. Special forces/troop transfers. Whatever you want. Cheap as chips and they’ll do up to 40 knots in sea state 4. Hard to hit and if you get one, you might lose up to 50 plus an assembly line boat.

  18. No weapon or system is perfect, that is true.

    But there is a but,

    You have to get close enough to launch the missile.

    What an aircraft carrier provides is an effective means of controlling the means by which an offending missile can be delivered. Many years ago now I read a piece by a former USN officer that theorised that it would take somewhere in the magnitude of 50 successful launches of the AS.34 Kormoran to successfully penetrate the air defences of a USN carrier battle-group. (I make no claim to that being right but that is what I read)

    But that raises the question, how close are offending missile launching systems likely to get to a carrier group given the ability for it to extend its defensive shield to any extend it requires by the deployment of aircraft which can both destroy airborne and surface threats?

    As for Australian plans to join the arms race in Asia? Somehow I don’t see that happening?

  19. Token

    All part of Obama’s plan to nobble America.

    In time the decision will be understood. Like so many things, people don’t remember a world when an Anglo super power ensured peace and no brigandry on the sea.

  20. lotocoti

    I think you’d have to expend a lot of cash to develop a realistic CVN replacement.

  21. Zatara

    Angle of Attack – How Naval Aviation Changed the Face of Warfare

    First 56 minutes are mostly US Naval Air history through the Battle of Midway, last portion is the argument phase.

  22. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Combine Dave:

    I take it Australia has no current plans to develop such a weapon ahead of our allies & rivals in the region?

    No. The last Menzies, Whitlam and Hawke governments threw away any such chance and it’s just too expensive to start from scratch. We still do some things well, but not that. What we should be doing IMHO is buying the best of foreign missile designs plural, settling on one as a baseline, and the manufacturing and further developing it here. This is not cheap! We’d have to do it with two missiles at least, a SAM (STANDARD is the obvious choice here) and a long range ASM which can be fired from surface ships (ASM + booster) and aircraft (ASM).

  23. There are a number of incredibly expensive boondoggles that claim to be counter measures, none can stop long range shore based missiles.

    If you were China (or anyone else, for that matter), would you be prepared to bet the house on that?

  24. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    SedI:

    As for Australian plans to join the arms race in Asia? Somehow I don’t see that happening?

    Your terminology is both simplistic and obsolete. There is no ‘arms race’ in Asia.

    What you are seeing is nations taking over their own defence responsibilities as US capability in the western Pacific declines in relative terms. These nations were partially reliant on the USA to protect their interests. As the US ability to do so falls away, they are expanding their own capability to do protect their own interests.

    It’s a perfectly rational national response to changing strategic circumstances.

    Australia is in the same boat. ASPI has noted in the past that the USA protectc somewhere between half and two thirds of Australia’s strategic interests. In other words, the US taxpayer is picking up our strategic bills. The partially accurate colloqial term for this is ‘bludging on your mates’, although we actually pay for more of our ‘tab’ than most by means which are outside the public scope. Governments on both sides have cheerfully accepted this, with the ALP consistently trying to deepen Australian strategic dependency on the USA by running down such military capability as we have.

    Now we are moving into ‘crunch time’ territory at a very bad time – for the ALP-greenfilth coalition of blithering incompetent idiots has wrecked our public finances, so we have little ability to pay. And yet there is no strategic choice over the next two decades when the crunch will occur.

    There is much debate in strategic circles about whether the strategic landscape resembls 1913 or 1937. They are missing the point – those periods were times of crisis inside the system, what is happening now is that the global system is changing at all levels. This presages systemic collapse, a very violent period, and the emergence of a new system the shape of which cannot be foreseen. The last time we saw this was in the 1780s and we all know how that panned out – 26 years of bloody global warfare followed by 33 years of extreme social upheaval and social violence until a new system emerged. Who, in the era of absolute monarchy and divine right (1785) could have foreseen the agreed socio-strategic global system which emerged at the Congress of Vienna in 1848? And even the Concert of Europe which the Congress of Vienna created could only damp down the social upheaval inside Europe itself. It took another 30 years to settle.

    And we certainly have to Klemens von Metternich to head off what is happening. Instead we have short-sighted incompetenht cretins like Preshizzle O’Dumbugger (Paco™) who appears to take gleeful delight in combining the worst traits of Louis XV and Louis XVI in one vile package of screaming imbecility. This fatuous little corrupt Chicago machine idiot personally proves Blair’s Law, and he has unleashed forces far better men kept in check for seventy years. Creating strategic stability is slow and very difficult, but any fool can wreck it very easily.

    We have our fool, and history shows what is now in train is unstoppable.

  25. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    And we certainly have NO Klemens von Metternich

  26. Mk50, what do you think of the potential capability of the fast cats as a naval platform, given their relatively low cost, cost being the name of the game for us. After all, the value of missiles is in their cost/damage ratio. If they can provide defence against missiles operating in groups and carry air, there would seem to be significant potential there. Of course, one would not use them in isolation, putting all eggs in one basket as it were.

  27. I do apologise Mk, I tried to condense the question posed and the answer.

    You reply was on the money, however, how do you see Australia getting from our current starting point to where we could reasonably facilitate our own defence? I believe the US Government does hold a “if you’re not going to do it, we’re not going to do it for you” attitude, and rightfully so. So, what do we do?

    The ADF has suffered greatly at the hands of near-sighted governments of both persuasions for decades, poor purchasing decisions, poor structural changes and weak strategic thinking and a general laziness combined. And now would be an opportune to rectify those mistakes.

    It’s a steep hill to climb but I think it manageable.

  28. Zatara

    The beauty of carriers, and amphibious ready groups, is that they can be used as a gesture. Move one into the vicinity just to let people know you are interested.

    The fallacy of the “We can do it all with missiles” argument is that every potential argument comes down to a “will they shoot or not” situation. Nuclear weapons make that an extraordinarily dangerous game.

    Considering the farked up governments some democracies have been lumbered with recently I think I vote for the flexible option rather than the pull the trigger or not one.

    That being said, it is high time that countries other than the US carry those burdens. An Alliance is only sound if all members contribute in meaningful ways and the citizens pay for their own defense.

  29. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Beer:

    Mk50, what do you think of the potential capability of the fast cats as a naval platform, given their relatively low cost, cost being the name of the game for us. After all, the value of missiles is in their cost/damage ratio.

    They are highly specialised niche cargo carriers. mate of mine commanded Jervis Bay (III) during teh Timor thing and had a ball. They can compete successfully in ton-mile costs with aircraft over distance up to 1,500 nautical miles. They are nowhere near the ton-mile costs of conventional monohulls, I believe we should have 2 based in Townsville as emergency response vessels for the region (PNG/Solomons) but that’s it.

    They are unsuitable as warships. The problem with cats is they are extremely expensive to build (10-15 times a boring old steel cargo carrier in tons of worked metal terms), are built of aluminium which cracks in a seaway and has less than half the service life of a steel hull (and which shatters when hit with a modern warhead), and which melts when the ship has a fire. The link is to USS Belknap, her aluminium superstructure melted and ran down into the engine rooms, which had up to four feet of congealed aluminium on the deckplates. Obviously, this killed a lot of men who were fighting the fire at the time.

    Cats also have one very bad characteristic for a combatant. You can’t really do damage control on them. Any underwater damage imposes a large off-centre load, excessive list angles, and deeper submergence of the damaged area, which leads to more flooding….

    They can operate at high speeds (chewing a lot of fuel to do so) but a ship’s own speed is of little tactical value. If you need high tactical speed – well that’s what helicopters are for. Most frigate sized (WWII small cruiser sized) warships don’t do more than 28-29 knots these days and rarely do above 25 in service. The vast bulk of the fastest warships ever built were built between 1912 and 1950 when tactical speed had value.

    If they can provide defence against missiles operating in groups and carry air, there would seem to be significant potential there. Of course, one would not use them in isolation, putting all eggs in one basket as it were.

    This is the old fallacy of the Jeune Ecole, lots of cheap, small units which made the battleship obsolete. Well it simply was not true in 1890, nor was it true again in 1960 (fast small missile boats like the Komar etc) and it’s not true now. Lots of small fast ships dashing about means a coastal area denial navy which is not what we need. And if you want to do coastal waters denial, use mines. They are far, far cheaper than missile boats and scare the ripe out of naval types. Really modern mines cannot be swept at all, you have to search the sea floor for them one at a time. Do-able but agonisingly slow.

    Jeune Ecole fails the instant you want to project national power or protect your trade, simply because small vessels cannot stay at sea for enough time and get beaten up by the weather if they try. It works for the short-sea guys like the Swedes and Danes as they have short distance and no wish or ability to project power, and the USA protects their foreign going maritime trade. And because the Baltic is a duck pond.

    For a brilliant history of the Jeune Ecole, see: Theodore Ropp: The Development of a Modern Navy: French Naval Policy 1871–1904. Ed.: Stephen S. Roberts, Annapolis, Md., Naval Institute Press, 1987 (Harvard University dissertation from 1937)

    Ropp is superb.

    What amuses the hell out of me is that Australia has a trade protection squadron which operates as [art of the globally domiant maritime power’s overall structure.

    In 1914 it was 1 second class capital ship, 3 large trade protection cruisers, 2 small ones, 6 small destroyers for local defence, 3 subs and the usual ‘others’.

    In 1928 it was 2 second class capital ships, 4 outdated trade protection cruisers, 6 DD, 2 subs and the usual ‘others’.

    In 1950 it was 2 second class capital ships, 3 powerful ‘cruiser replacement’ destroyers, 8 ASW frigates, 3 subs loaned and manned by the RN and the usual ‘others’.

    Now we are back to 2 second class capital ships, 3 anti-aircraft cruisers (building), 8 frigates, 6 subs and the usual ‘others’.

    Which says a lot about the constancy of our strategic structure from 1900 to now.

  30. bobby b

    President Obama still has several years left in his term.

    Extrapolating from his successes so far, one can see that the US will soon have no need for aircraft carriers, for two reasons.

    First, everyone in the entire world will soon love him nearly as much as he does himself, obviating the U.S.’s need for tools of violence.

    Second, aircraft carriers are mainly useful for projecting power. Obama has effectively dissipated US world power to the point where its aircraft carriers would serve no purpose. There will be no power to project.

    (Normally, deactivation costs to remove a carrier from service would be staggeringly high, especially given the cost of dismantling and disposing of nuclear propulsion systems, but the latest rumor holds that Obama is considering merely parking the carriers along the coast of conservative stronghold Texas with large deck guns mounted and pointed inland, as “a cool way to mess with their redneck heads” – one of Rahm Emanuel’s ideas from back before they gave him Chicago as they kicked him out the door.)

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