Large carriers are a foolhardy venture. US Admiral Hyman Rickover, when asked about how long the US carriers would survive in a confrontation with the Soviet Union, replied “About two days”. Carriers, in naval warfare, are little more than targets for submariners’ target practice. Instead, main use of aircraft carriers is to support the amphibious landings with their aircraft, and defend the surface assets from airborne attack by enemy land-based aircraft. AEGIS system is nearly useless against low-flying aircraft and missiles, as well as in the coastal areas with heavy civilian air traffic, so carrier-borne air arm may be the fleet’s only defense against the air threat unless ground-based aircraft are located nearby.
Sea control is responsibility of the submarine force. In the Pacific theatre of World War II, US submarines have sunk 1.300 Japanese merchant ships totalling 4,9 million tons, and 200 warships including 8 aircraft carriers and 1 battleship, while a minor British submarine force has sunk over 100 vessels, including a dozen warshups. In fact, out of 2.782 Japanese ships lost, submarines sank 1.314, surface craft 123, air attack 1.232, while remainder were sunk by combined attacks, mines, shore batteries or unknown causes. Half of the ships sunk due to the air attack were lost to the land-based aircraft. How grave situation was can be shown by the fact that after the 1943 Japanese Navy did not start a construction of a single ship bigger than a destroyer, choosing to focus exclusively on merchant and anti-submarine ships. But the war in Pacific was not won by any single factor – including the atomic bombs. It was won by US and USSR Army and Navy through neutralizing Japanese land and naval forces. Red Army neutralized 32% of the Japanese Army, and that brought about the end of the war.
Main usage of aircraft carriers is in supporting land bases, providing air cover for surface ships (warships and transports alike), as well as providing close air support to amphibious landing and combat operations near the shore. To quote Chuck Myers:
“I’d like to try to clarify the primary value of aircraft carriers (long forgotten by my deep-strike oriented Navy/MC and USAF):
(1) establish air superiority (killing enemy pilots in the air) over areas where we are trying to transition from sea-to-land and/or where we have troops in contact with the enemy ground forces
(2) under the cover of our fighters, perform MAS for our grunts. That’s primarily it.”
This reality is reflected in CV(X)’s air group. However, no carrier will have a standard air group coupled to it. Instead, Navy squadrons will be placed on carrier as needed for the mission, and carrier may also serve for transporting the ground troops and supplies.
Small carriers are not necessarily less capable than large ones. Due to funding issues, 90.000 ton Nimitz class carriers typically carry an air wing more suited to the 45.000 ton Midway class (typical Nimitz air wing is 60 fighters while ship’s capacity is over 100) and number of carriers themselves may drop from 9 to 6. And huge costs of nuclear-powered supercarriers hinder replacing its aircraft with more modern (and hopefully better, though two do not necessarily go hand-in-hand) aircraft. Nuclear carriers can stay at sea for long periods of time, but they are still limited by perishables (aircraft fuel, food and ammunition), and refuelling the reactor takes up to 3 years. Reactor itself adds at least 600-800 million USD to ship’s price tag.
Several small carriers are always better than one large carrier. One ship can only be in one place at the time, and having several carriers limits the damage if one is sunk. As World War II has also shown, aircraft carriers will get sunk. Japan has lost 16 fleet and light carriers (10 to aircraft, 1 to surface ships, 5 to submarines), UK has lost 5 fleet and light carriers (1 to aircraft, 1 to surface ships, 3 to submarines), and US have lost 6 fleet and light carriers (4 to aircraft, 0 to surface ships, 2 to submarines). What this ignores (lies, damn lies and statistics) is that those carriers that were lost to aircraft were oftentimes only disabled, and later sunk by torpedoes – either from their own escort ships or from submarines that targeted them while under the tow. Those that were sunk by the aircraft were either sunk by a combined dive bomber / torpedo bomber attack, or (more rarely) were unlucky enough to suffer an ammunition / avgas fumes explosion. But nowadays only submarines carry torpedoes, so combined with far greater effectiveness of modern torpedoes, it can be expected that statistics would move towards the submarines. Also, torpedoes were defective for much of the World War II – some torpedoes would only detonate at precise 90* angle, and some would detonate at all angles except 90*. Most however were simply straight duds. Further, one of carrier’s jobs is hunting for submarines and enemy ships – and that is only possible by having large number of relatively small carriers so as to cover the vastness of the sea (United States had a total of 124 carriers in the World War II – 22 fleet, 9 light and 93 escort). That being said, a carrier does not have to be sunk to be out of the action – a single bomb or a cruise missile punching a hole in the flight deck can stop all flight operations, turning the carrier into a worthless box. Yet despite all the advantages of small carriers, and despite the military being run by the “professionals”, a civillian leader (Roosevelt) had to order the US Navy to do what common sense demanded and start converting civilian craft to escort carriers, as well as to convert several heavy cruiser hulls to light Independence class carriers (US Navy opposed both measures).
Carriers are also needed to provide aircraft that will shoot down enemy anti-submarine aircraft out of the air. Germany which didn’t have any carriers lost 994 submarines (though major part was played by Enigma having been cracked); no other country lost more than 200, and only Japan came close to it, loosing 190 submarines. UK, France and US all lost less than 75 submarines each. During the Cold War, Canadian CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft could find both Soviet and US nuclear submarines through their wake; but such tactic does not work as well against small, slow conventional submarines.
This carrier will use the FLX and AX. FLX has a takeoff distance of 204 meters and latter of 427 meters; however, a naval variant of the FLX, while heavier, will be fitted with thrust vectoring, reducing takeoff distance to approximately half of the standard one (assumption: 65%), or 132 meters. As naval versions will be heavier, ALXs normal takeoff distance will be assumed to be 500 meters. Takeoff with catapult will be assumed as 100 meters.
Airgroup will consist of a minimum of 12 FLX and 12 ALX. Both combat aircraft have maximum combat radius on internal fuel of over 1.200 km (1.240 km FLX, 1.250 km ALX) which is far better than the F-18C/D (740 km on AtA mission) or F-18E/F (722 km on interdiction mission). If needed, ALX will also carry sensor (radar etc.) pods, torpedoes and other anti-submarine equipment, and part or entirety of normal complement can be replaced with OLX, which has a takeoff distance of 400 meters without catapult, or 80 (?) meters with catapult. Naval versions of the FLX, ALX and OLX will all be capable of using podded versions of AN/APY-10 radar and AN/ASQ-81 magnetic anomaly detector for anti-submarine purposes, and ALX will be equipped with AN/ARS-2 sonobuoy receiver and up to 70 sonobuoys.
Minimum length of 160 meters will allow FLX to take off without catapult, thus reducing the reaction time if carrier ever comes under the attack. This length will also allow two catapults to be fitted one behind another, improving takeoff rate. Length of 220 meters would allow both catapults to be used for launching the ALX. For comparision, HMS Invincible is 210 m long, Charles de Gaulle is 262 m long, Queen Elizabeth is 284 m long while Nimitz is 333 m long. Independence class carriers were 190 m long. Longer length may also allow the FLX to take off with external fuel tanks in order to maximize the time in the air during the CAP. Angled deck will have to be long enough to allow the aircraft to accelerate and reattempt a landing if it does not manage to catch the wire, and its angle will be 9 degrees. Width will be no more than 32 meters so the carrier can fit through the Panama canal; length limit for the canal is 294 meters. As FLX is 12,7 meters long with 10,4 meter wing span, and ALX 12,6 meters, 24 meter hangar width is required. Hull width will thus be 30 meters (2,5 meters of boarding on both sides). As fineness ratio of 9:1 is required for best sailling performance, 30 meter hull (not deck) width results in a 270 meter length. Reducing the ratio to 8:1 results in a length of 240 meters.
Bi- and Tr- -maran designs are not a good option since they are not very maneuverable, and lack the volume for the same deck space. Carrier will be conventionally powered – some carriers may be nuclear-powered but their aircraft are not. As a result, they have to regularly resupply and refuel.
Carrier will have a typical angled deck for aircraft recovery, while aircraft launch will be carried out from bow with catapults. Power plant has to be near the center of the hull, with exhaust stacks located on the side of the ship near the plant, and bridge superstructure built around them.
Length is 246 meters, hull width is 30 meters, and maximum flight deck width is 58,5 meters. This allows the FLX to take off without using catapult or necessitating usage of a complex thrust vectoring nozzle. Deck width might prevent it from using the Panama canal. Displacement will be 31.000 tons maximum and 20.000 tons standard, with speed of 32 knots. Cost will be estimated at 850 million USD, somewhat above the Invincible class carrier’s cost.
As it can be seen, its standard air group consists of 20 FLX and 16 ALX. This will allow it to launch 40 FLX and 48 ALX sorties per day, compared to Nimitz’s ability to launch 43 F-18 sorties per day (up to 156 sorties per day with maximum complement, but such complement is almost never carried). If only hangar deck is used, it will carry 12 FLX and 12 ALX, for 24 FLX and 36 ALX sorties per day. Maximum FLX complement is 30 aircraft, while maximum ALX complement is 36 aircraft. Alternatively, it will be capable of ferrying 30-100+ Leopard II tanks (36+ in hangar, 60+ on flight deck, though realistic number is somewhere in the middle as it will have to carry heavy-lift helicopters to transport tanks to the shore), or several thousands tons of supplies.
Comparation with modern carriers
On average, Nimitz class carries 24 F-18 strike fighters, 5 EA-6B electronic warfare aircraft, 5 EA-2C AWACS, and 7 anti-submarine helicopters, for a total of 41 aircraft. Maximum air group is 130 F-18s or up to 90 aircraft of different types.
Length is 332,8 m overall and 317 m waterline, beam is 76,8 m overall and 40,8 m waterline, and displacement is 102.000 t.
Each Nimitz class carrier has a construction cost of 4,45 billion in FY1995 USD, or 6,93 billion in FY2014 USD. This means that for 50 billion USD, one can have 7 carriers with up to 910 aircraft providing 1.092 sorties per day.
Charles de Gaulle
Typical air group is 20-40 aircraft. If all aircraft are assumed to be Rafales, then it can provide up to 80 sorties per day.
Length is 261,5 m, beam is 64,36 m, and draught is 9,43 m. Displacement is 42.000 tonnes full load and 37.085 tonnes standard.
Charles de Gaulle had cost 4 billion USD in 2003, or 5,15 billion USD in 2014. This means that for 50 billion USD, one can have 9 carriers with up to 360 aircraft providing 720 sorties per day.
Compared to the above, CV(X) carries 36 aircraft providing 88 sorties per day. With cost of 850 million USD, 50 billion USD gives 58 carriers with 2.088 aircraft providing 5.104 sorties per day.
55 thoughts on “Aircraft carrier proposal revised”
No heavy lift helicopter can lift 56t Leopard II
MAD is short range sensor and i think Iron in aircraft will interfere with its function
IMO FLX is too fast to be performing ASW duties
How will underway resupplying will be accomplished?
“No heavy lift helicopter can lift 56t Leopard II”
Single helicopter can’t. Though it is questionable how practical using two or three helicopters to lift a single tank is…
“IMO FLX is too fast to be performing ASW duties”
I believe that F-18s can be configured for ASW, but I’d still leave ASW primarly to ALX.
“How will underway resupplying will be accomplished?”
Similar to WWII, by using specialized ships (tankers, cargo ships etc).
Carriers and amphibious ships are power projection ships and they do not play in the same waters as the submarines do. They are very difficult to find in open water and can come together very quickly to attack a target and then disperse. That is how they worked in WW2.
An American carrier has never been sunk in open waters while traveling at speed. The closes thing was a carrier lost in the Philippine sea during WW2 but it was escorting merchant men and thus exposed himself to submarines.
Carriers that the Japanese lost to submarine; only one that I can recollect and it was leaving port. At the end of the war the Japanese where just too short of resources but I can’t remember them loosing a carrier in open waters that was also streaming at task force type speeds.
The real lesson here is that Carriers are a symbol of power because of their power projection capacity but they are not suitable for all types of sea warfare and over investing in them can bring some imbalances in force and consequences long term.
Plus every amphib with an 800 foot deck is a carrier. The F-35B gives these a punch that they have not had ever before.
All carrier proposals need to account for airborne early warning either by aircraft or helicopter or expose itself to the fate of the British in the Falklands.
Helicopters are no solution to submarines over wide areas. The USA uses large land based aircrafts flying from bases all over the world but if those bases are not available you will need more ASW ships and more helicopters to do the job not quite as well. The carriers would have to return to the use of sea borne ASW aircrafts with endurance (VIKING).
This is complex.
Quite a few carriers (and capital ships in general) have been lost to submarines, you have numbers provided in the text, albeit some of these were sunk in the port. As for carriers, Taiho has been lost to US submarine while launching aircraft, Shinano was lost while in transit, as was Shinyo, and Taiyo was torpedoed three times before the last one that sunk it. RNs Courageous was sunk while on an anti-submarine patrol. I can’t remember any US fleet carriers lost to submarines, though Yorktown was sunk by a submarine while being towed back for repairs, and an escort carrier Liscome Bay was sunk by a Japanese submarine while underway.
Reason why not many US carriers were lost to submarines was, ironically, large number of carriers which allowed them to hunt down relatively slow and surface-bound submarines before these became a threat. It wasn’t 100% successful, though, and right now US have only 11 carriers (20 if you count assault ships) with no real ASW capability.
F-35 isn’t a solution to anything, it is too underperforming to act as an air superiority fighter and has too limited endurance and too low sortie rate to be a successful anti-submarine aircraft, and aircraft carrier (as you pointed out) has to have fixed-wing anti-submarine capability.
You neglect to account for the SSNs included in a US Carrier task force.
Something an opposing submariner would be well advised to consider.
Each carrier group has 2 SSNs, which never did well against AIP submarines in exercises, and what if the enemy has 5 submarines? Point is, numbers matter.
Mr. McGoo, what the submarines really fear are the helicopters and the aircrafts. They have the mobility / speed to react very quickly to a contact and are drop torpedoes on them.
The submarine that accompanies the task force is there because opposing Navies shadow the task force with their Nuclear submarines. So that submarine is there to counter that and to act as a last ditch defense against others.
But the aircrafts are the key weapon to find submarines at large and sink them.
Modern coastal submarine are very hard to find. The nuclear submarine in the task force will not find them specially since they will probably be using passive sonar in order not to give themselves away. Even if they can locate the coastal sub they still have to close the distance and by the time they get there he might be gone. The speed of the helicopter or the aircraft is again the key.
There is also the fact that diesel-electric submarines are most effective in shallows, where noise prevents enemy sonar (active or passive) from detecting them. But being at shallow depth makes them more prone to being detected by aircraft.
I’ve never understood why nuclear carriers proliferated.
I can see nuclear submarines under some situations offering advantages (in deep waters) over diesels (which are better for shallow waters), but for carriers?
Expensive to build and de-commission a nuclear reactor (plus environmental hazards)
Carrier cannot really use the superior speed (or else it will outrun escorts), unless all escorts are capable of sustained speed or are nuclear too
Group is still dependent on logistics ships to keep themselves supplied
Chris, the speed of the carrier’s task force is its best defense and the needs for energy of such a large ship would be difficult to meet in any other way if not Nuclear. Navies with out nuclear carrier must make trade offs.
The escorts can keep up with the carrier in a straight line but since they will all be moving in random patterns their positions will not be in formation. They will be screening ahead and even behind and might be moving at some time even perpendicular to the carrier.
I don’t think you get what I just said.
The issue is that a nuclear reactor’s chief advantage is sustained high speed – something that conventional powered vessels cannot have. If a carrier has escorts “screening” ahead, then the escorts will be the bottheneck for maximum speed, not the nuclear reactor.
For this advantage to be used, it means that every ship in the entire battlegroup will need to be nuclear powered. That and perhaps the logistics vessels too for keeping the group re-supplied. Otherwise, unless you are running your aircraft carrier at high speeds without escort for some reason, you cannot travel faster than the sustained speeds of your conventional powered escorts.
Within a typical battlegroup, only the carrier and submarines are nuclear powered – not the ships. As such, the carrier, unless it plans to travel without escort, cannot really use its nuclear reactor to its advantage.
The other problem is that there’s an opportunity cost with going nuclear. It’s expensive to build a nuclear powered ship – the question is, would a nuclear powered vessel be a good opportunity cost over a conventional powered ship even factoring in the higher lifecycle costs? You will end up with a smaller fleet relative to the money you spent, although faster thanks to the nuclear reactor.
For all intelligence, people mostly rely on emotions when making important decisions.
Chris, I want to add to my post regarding submarines. Another reason for the nuclear attack subs is that besides shadowing the carriers or other surface fleets they are also tasked to shadowing the Russian ballistic submarines and those are fast, open water types. The attack submarines are tasked with sinking the ballistic ones if it comes to that.
So the need for nuclear subs is more rooted on these needs than raiding commerce or sitting in ambush like a coastal submarine will do.
The carriers do try to use their speed to get rid of the nuclear subs that are shadowing them and often times they will loose them.
Even conventional carriers of World War II were as fast or faster than today’s nuclear submarines. So while there is some need for nuclear submarines (though they definetly should not make up entirety, or even majority, of the submarine fleet), there is absolutely no need for nuclear carrier.
I did not criticize the decision to send nuclear submarines to shadow. I criticized the decision to build carriers that were nuclear powered.
I said nuclear submarines under certain situations are advantageous. My question was – what advantages could a nuclear powered carrier possibly bring?
Chris, the advantage to the carrier is what we already mentioned… the sustained speed, endurance, no refueling, huge amounts of energy to run everything, etc.
The escorts are another matter… the Carrier’s nuclear reactor is about $2 billion so even accounting for fewer of them in the escort it will still be a ding in the ships’ construction budget. Plus decommissioning them, etc. Plus weight and safety of the ship if nuclear powered is higher and more complex so more add to the budget. Not practical in their instance.
The way the USA uses submarines they need all of them to be Nuclear. If they start doing commerce raiding or ambushing they might also need conventional ones but they could also use mines for that or who knows if in the future we have unmanned underwater minisubs that are conventional.
Carriers are most useful for convoy escort and support of amphibious assaults, and neither of these tasks requires high sustained speed.
Convoy’s biggest threat are subs and hunting for subs requires speed to close the distance and to escape. In pursuit the helicopter can compensate for a slower ship but not in evasion.
Amphibious assaults does not require as much speed. But Carriers’ biggest role is to annihilate the opposing fleet which they will do at range. Once the opposing fleet is gone you can do other things like amphibious work, sub hunting, mine clearing, etc.
“Convoy’s biggest threat are subs and hunting for subs requires speed to close the distance and to escape. In pursuit the helicopter can compensate for a slower ship but not in evasion.”
Carrier is limited by speed of ships in the convoy it is escorting, aircraft will hunt for subs so carrier doesn’t have to sail around much anyway. Carriers made specifically for convoy escort were barely faster than transport ships in the convoy.
“But Carriers’ biggest role is to annihilate the opposing fleet which they will do at range. ”
Wrong, that is job of submarines, nuclear attack submarines in particular.
I have already indicated that sustained speed isn’t really an advantage. It won’t be unless all your escorts are also nuclear (very expensive). Neither will range unless you leave your escorts behind.
If we factor in the lifecycle costs involved in the nuclear reactor carrier (excludes other costs):
Building (quite costly)
There will be a couple of refuellings over the decades (assume a 40-50 year lifespan on the hull)
Operating costs (also have to train people for the job) and routine maintenance
Against this, the costs for a conventional reactor. Then you have to compare to the benefits it brings compared to the nuclear. The question is, if you are being escorted by conventional powered ships – what benefits does a nuclear powered carrier bring?
It costs more
It does have sustained speed and range, but only if you have escorts that can keep up
Building, operating, and decommissioning have unique challenges (ex: environmental hazards)
Remember, we are talking about carriers – not submarines. Carriers operate in a group.
We cannot compare today sub hunting with WW2 because back then ocean going conventional subs traveled on the surface most of the time. Since they where surfaced they where found using patrol boats, radar and search lights.
Speed was not as crucial back then because the sub traveled at 20 knots maximum on the surface and 8 knots maximum underwater. Cruising speed on the surface was about 10 knots and at 2-3 knots it could remain underwater for 48 hours. These are approximate but they make the point that a WW2 sub was essentially a surface ship that could travel submerged from time to time.
So those escort carriers if they could do 15 to 20 knots they where OK against that sort of submarine. And an escort carrier would still do well against a sub like the KILO if he dared to exit into open waters.
Today’s ocean going subs are nuclear so they are much-much faster and are always underwater. So those escort carriers would not be able to hunt for them like that. They would need to be faster and have other means of locating the sub. The anti-sub ships of the uSA Navy have towed sonar, Helicopters, etc. And the carrier has helicopters (should have planes but it helicopters).
“We cannot compare today sub hunting with WW2 because back then ocean going conventional subs traveled on the surface most of the time. Since they where surfaced they where found using patrol boats, radar and search lights.”
Which is why you have to have large number of both surface ships and submarines to counter enemy submarines. And as I said, submarine is a primary sea control ship, carrier’s main use is supporting ground troops and transporting aircraft (and other things) around.
“So those escort carriers if they could do 15 to 20 knots they where OK against that sort of submarine. And an escort carrier would still do well against a sub like the KILO if he dared to exit into open waters.”
Escort carrier’s speed is irrelevant since it is limited by speed of ships in the convoy. Fleet carriers always were fast, and WW2 fleet carriers were faster than today’s nuclear carriers, and could maintain that speed until they ran out of the fuel. Yet both types got sunk by “slow” diesel-electric submarines which, unlike carriers of the era, were far slower than modern equivalents.
“The way the USA uses submarines they need all of them to be Nuclear. If they start doing commerce raiding or ambushing they might also need conventional ones but they could also use mines for that or who knows if in the future we have unmanned underwater minisubs that are conventional.”
Un-related to carriers, but the real question is, can a “drone submarine” replace a manned one?
One on hand, they can be smaller, more agile. On the other hand, they will have to transmit and receive (unless they are fully autonomous), which degrades stealth.
“Un-related to carriers, but the real question is, can a “drone submarine” replace a manned one? ”
No. Not without having true, hard, Artificial Intelligences. And if you do, do you really want to let a weapon that can sink ships weighing hundreds of thousands of tons and possibly caring tens of thousand of people, run around without a human in the loop? Cause the very nature of submarine warfare which is based on true stealth precludes the AI from calling home to ask permission to sink that cruise liner carrying 20000 refuges.
Andrei, we already have mines that carry a torpedo that is fired when a certain signature detected by its sensors. This is sort of a precursor to one that will have a few torpedoes and move in a predetermined pattern. Coastal subs can also be hunted with things mines like these too.
They move underwater by inertial navigation and surface periodically to transmit or receive data and correct their navigation via GPS.
You fail to comprehend the true problem.
If you are talking about the morality I do understand it. But we are past that if we are using mines and they will be used as the weaker nations of the world keep a huge stockpile of them ready to go as deterrence: China, Iran, et al.
The drone will be expensive and probably more useful in looking for subs than for mines.
The first problem is that the submarine service in any nation navy is an elite, selecting usually the upper 2% to 10% of that navy’s seamen and women and officers. Captains have even harder selections most important criteria being independence and capacity to think outside of the box. Which is way most submarine captains have high disregard for exercise rules that do not make sense, such as them not being able to target carriers, and ignore such rules resulting in high fatality rates for US carriers in exercise whenever a foreign submarine participates (US carriers have be sunk by Norwegians, Danes, Japanese, Australians and especially Swedes – Gotland probably sunk all US carriers in it’s 2 years lease to the US navy). Now do you think such a crew is going to be sunk by a drone moving in a “PREDETERMINED pattern” and that “surfaces PERIODICALLY”? I highlighted those to words because it’s what submarine captains have loved since the Turtle from the American Revolutionary War, because it permits them to anticipate their opponent and using their superior independence and capacity to think outside the box to surprise and destroy their opponent. Such qualities have permitted Axis submariners to sneak into Alexandria harbor and Scapa Flow and sink and damage British battleships in the beginning of WWII, same qualities allowed British midget submarines to return the favor by crippling Tirpitz at anchorage, etc. As for your ascertainment that ” Coastal subs can also be hunted with things mines like these too.” I’m going to answer with a question – how many subs do you know of that have been sunk by mines in war time?
The second issue, the moral one, you simply pass over it, by comparing it to mine warfare, and failing to see the difference between a fixed mine an a mobile, stealthy, submarine. If an civilian ship packed with refuges chooses to go into a minefield, it’s their problem. But when you send the mines to actively hunt down ships of all sorts then that it’s a different mater altogether, if you think the two issues are the same I recommend psychiatric counseling.
Andrei… the problems with your analysis is that it does not make allowances for progress.
Some of today mines are like torpedoes that will react to pressure, magnetic or other inputs either by themselves or in combination. Once the proper combination of inputs is detected the mine will releases a torpedo that hones in on the target.
The unmanned submersibles that I am seeing now are quieter than manned subs and would be used to search in a methodical fashion for submarines. They would not be used to penetrate a port or anchorage the way you are describing. But a single ship with a crane can drop several of them into the waters and they would be use to help find a shallow water sub that is moving very quietly. Or for that matter search for mines too. We are already seeing them use for searching but you can see the possibilities.
And finally comes the often repeated claim of the Carrier being sunk. Exercises are designed to test systems. If you want to test how easy or hard it is for your helicopters to spot a coastal submarine the claim of having sunk the carrier is of course ridiculous since the carrier was exposing himself.
Similarly for exercises where a carrier is forcing an entry through a choke point… this is just to test if that can be done in the presence of subs snipping at it. The claim that the carrier was sunk is ridiculous from the perspective of the unfavorable position the carrier was placed in.
The carrier’s biggest enemy is the lack of enemies. The carrier is an anti-fleet weapon used to destroy open water fleets such as the Japanese WW2 navy. There are none of those around today. The carrier can be used for shore/inland bombardment but the weapons available to shore defenses are multiplying and more people have them. It is no secret that in some littoral waters that are heavily defended by layers of crafts, subs and missiles carriers will not be able to operate until those defenses are degraded by others. This is what is making carriers less relevant in some conflicts. Nothing new since against the Soviets it would have been impossible to operate a carrier in the Baltic or near the Russian Pacific shores that are surrounded by a string of islands. This is why we will see fewer carriers.
Carriers were “sunk” repeatedly in Rimpac exercises that are staged in open water, they were not forcing choke-points or other such scenarios as the amphibious warfare ships were used for that. In the Rimpac the rules of engagement were favoring the carriers by not allowing the subs to engage them and the subs were practically supposed to just be targets for ASW helicopters and airplanes. Conventional submarine captains (like I said from Norway, Danemark – when it still had subs, I think it was a woman captain from Danemark – Japan and especially Australia) repeatedly violated this rules, penetrated ASW defenses that were actively seeking them and “sunk” the carriers. Why do you keep insisting on disregarding these exercises I don’t know why? The situation was favoring the carriers and they still got sunk. Seriously your attitude now is the same as that of Battleship proponents before WWII, you are clinking to the most positive scenario and completely disregarding even the notion that anything can go wrong.
As for the Gotland’s stint in the US Navy, that is classified, and I suppose it will be for the foreseeable future, but I suppose giving the length of time involved, every scenario was taken into consideration, from ones mostly favoring the subs to ones heavily favoring the carriers. The fact that the lease was extended, allows one with intellect to assume that the initial results were worrisome for the US Navy
“The carrier’s biggest enemy is the lack of enemies. The carrier is an anti-fleet weapon used to destroy open water fleets such as the Japanese WW2 navy. There are none of those around today. The carrier can be used for shore/inland bombardment but the weapons available to shore defenses are multiplying and more people have them. It is no secret that in some littoral waters that are heavily defended by layers of crafts, subs and missiles carriers will not be able to operate until those defenses are degraded by others. This is what is making carriers less relevant in some conflicts. Nothing new since against the Soviets it would have been impossible to operate a carrier in the Baltic or near the Russian Pacific shores that are surrounded by a string of islands. This is why we will see fewer carriers.”
The solution is simple scrap the F-35 with it’s meager combat radius of 500 nautical miles and replace it with something that can super-cruise and has a combat radius in excess of 1000 nautical miles, like say the Rafale. Seriously except for vertical landing, the Rafale dose twice as good and at half the cost, so 4 times your moneys worth, everything the F-35 claims to do. This way the carrier dose not need to enter congested waters. Many of the problems the US Navy complains about would simply disappear if the US gets a license to produce the Rafale M
“Why do you keep insisting on disregarding these exercises I don’t know why?”
Because exactly what you said… do you know the statistical probability of a diesel submarine running across a carrier steaming along at 30knots in open waters? Practically zero. They carrier and the submarine where brought together by the exercise and that is just a planned event… in real life the sub cannot count on that type of fortuitous event occurring at all. Like I said earlier, if the sub gets intelligence of a carrier location how do you think they will catch him?
Is the F-35 range with internal ordinance being compared to a Rafale with external ordinance and fuel tanks?
It seems like it.
The Rafale combat radius with external stores is about half of that and to get to 1000 miles it has to be configured with large external tanks, etc. Heavy, big and easy to find.
Rafale’s combat radius in an air superiority mission with no external fuel tanks is 1.100-1.200 km, compared to 1.100 km for Typhoon, 1.300 km for Gripen E, 1.100-1.250 km for F-22 and 1.082 km for F-35A.
And I don’t know why you keep on insisting that conventional subs equipped with AIP are coastal subs. That’s not how the Australian and Japanese boats are being used. The Collins class and Soryu class are used as full-blown ocean going submarines. Soryu even has a range of 6000 nautical miles on AIP alone. That is enough to get them 2000 miles past Hawaii, I think it covers 2 thirds of the Pacific ocean more or less. The fact that they have a speed of 20 knots is non-consequential regarding carrier hunting because the carrier can’t maintain the 30 knot speed. It needs supplies every 3 days and it’s escort need fuel. And also the carrier is not conceived to run around doing nothing, but to take a position and launch air-strikes it can’t run around at 30 knots when it’s waiting for the strike package to return, and in that time it’s very vulnerable. Even if it were equipped with Rafale and 500 miles of cost in deep water, the conventional sub could sneak in under a thermocline (which has the advantage of bouncing sound waves back hiding the sub from both passive and active detection) and attack in.
A coastal submarine cannot sneak on anyone… those 6000 mile ranges are not combat patrol ranges plus they are predicated on a 7 mph speed which is just a little more than my own personal walking speed and it will take them 35 days transverse that distance. You cannot catch anyone at that speed and I bet that if it sprints it needs to surface in a couple of days.
The carrier does not move in a strait line plus it does move at 30 knts all the time since the reactor is making energy non-stop. It does need to replenish aviation fuel and spares and that happens at a lower speed but they are still moving a lot faster than that sub will ever dream of moving.
In open water the Sub gets a signal from a reconnaissance asset that the carrier’s sighting some place and by the time they get there the carrier is hundred of miles away.
That is why these subs sit at the mouth of harbors, at choke points and along trade routes where speed is not that important and traveling slowly so they can be very quiet.
“Because exactly what you said… do you know the statistical probability of a diesel submarine running across a carrier steaming along at 30knots in open waters? Practically zero. ”
Actually they are pretty big because the carrier you seem to think has magic powers of vanishability (I don’t think that’s a word but … ) has to stay in a predetermined area of operation to be usable as a weapon. That area is determined by the targets it has to hit and the range of it’s aircraft. The carrier has to remain in that area when it moves around at 30 knots but also when it’s replenishing, because if it moves from that area for even a day, to replenish it’s store bad things happen to it’s allies left without air-cover. It’s practically confined to a predetermined area just like in an exercise. So you could say that the carrier and submarine are brought together by a planed event but it’s not the exercise simply the reality of war in a world without teleportation.
” It does need to replenish aviation fuel and spares and that happens at a lower speed but they are still moving a lot faster than that sub will ever dream of moving. ”
Replenishing is done in a calm sea at a speed of between 10 to 20 knots, very easy to achieve for conventional submarines which have a maximum submerged speed of 20 knots at least. During replenishment the carrier and the resupply ship have to move in a straight line, because they are linked by hoses and stuff. Perfect conditions for a submarine attack. Also the submarine can determine the position of the carrier by following the supply ship which has a maximum speed of 25 knots (Google Supply class if you don’t believe me) and will probably cruise at a meager 10 knots.
“Is the F-35 range with internal ordinance being compared to a Rafale with external ordinance and fuel tanks?
It seems like it.
The Rafale combat radius with external stores is about half of that and to get to 1000 miles it has to be configured with large external tanks, etc. Heavy, big and easy to find.”
Tell me is living in denial a super-power of yours. The F-35 with internal ordinance and fuel carries 2 bombs and 2 AMRAAMs. The Rafale to achieve the 1000 mile range needs 3 drop-tanks, that leaves 11 hardpoints for the Rafale B/C and 10 hardpoints for the Rafale M, capable of caring any imaginable combination of AAMs, bombs and cruise missiles available to NATO countries. And still Rafale with its 3 droptanks and hardpoints full of ordnance, is faster, more maneuverable, lighter and smaller then the F-35 with just its internal weapons and what it lacks in radar stealth it makes up in IR, visual and audio stealth and in the superior capabilities of its SPECTRA system, which according to reports from Libya allowed it to act as a defacto stealth aircraft penetrating deeper then any other allied aircraft inside Libyan air-defenses and acted without SEAD support. Read here: http://www.defense-aerospace.com/article-view/feature/125860/rafale-in-combat:-%E2%80%9Cwar-for-dummies%E2%80%9D.html if you don’t believe me. Over Libya they were routinely re-tasked while in the air, and were practically doing 3 years ago what the F-35 will supposedly do somewhere in the next decade.
The problem is that a carrier cannot go everywhere. It has to be x distance away to be useful – dictated by its aircraft (for this reason, higher fuel fraction = better).
All you have to do with your diesel submarines is:
During peace, train their crews very well and keep them well maintained
At war, send them to an approximate location that you expect an enemy carrier or main enemy fleet to go)
Have them shut down and sit there and wait (basically on battery, AIP, and rarely coming up for a charge)
Ambush when they arrive
The goal is to make as little noise as possible. Carriers cannot go everywhere. They need to be within combat radius of aircraft to be effective.
Ugh, No one considers the threat of electronic warfare or hacking. Hacking will become a threat in our world. Much more dangerous than it is today. I can take control of a drone even though it has a firewall or it is encrypted. I’ll tell you right now passing through digital walls is not very hard once you get past encrypted walls which I can break through using software. Yes there is software that can do that people have made it and stolen military intelligence from the US and other western countries in the past. I can make an entire fleet of drones useless with just a signal jammer! God I hate this “Drones are the future”
No one takes the threat of cyber war lightly but there are other things… the USA is heavily dependent on GPS and knocking out a few satellites would negate that advantage.
I think the Cyber War angle might be over-played… it assumes that others are ahead of the USA because of all the publicity that is given to hacking here but consider the alternative postulate that the hacking done by the USA might be harder to detect and more advance.
It doesn’t assume that others are ahead of the USA; but that USA are more vulnerable to cyberwarfare due to their reliance on “network-centric” warfare.
Drone anything cannot replace manned anything until advent of true artificial intelligence (at which point we’ll have robot uprising to worry about instead of idiot military procurement). Supplement yes, replace no.
I know drones are not ready for this sort of use but they are currently being used for surveillance and you can see the writing in the wall.
A case could be made that recon drones could be made fully autonomous.
But as noted above by Andrei, you still want a human to make the final call on whether to kill or not. That in turn implies transmitting and receiving in real time, which runs against the idea of stealth. There are other issues. The drone’s software could by buggy or it could have a systems crash, so as noted, you don’t want it to kill a lot of unintended targets. Rogue drone could be a very real danger with fully automation.
The other issue is only using a pre-programmed pattern (ex: a sonar signature). Over time, in a real conflict, your opponent would attempt to make countermeasures. There would have to be some analysis of some sort before firing, to make sure that it’s what you think it is. Either the computer has to be competent enough or again, some human is going to be have to be in the loop.
I could see drastic reductions in crew complement in the future, but total elimination for heavy combat missions?
On drones… in a span of coastal waters finding a small super quiet sub is a very laborious thing. Rather than using two or three ships to look for it one ship can deploy these drones… think about it as a labor saving device.
That is basically recon work.
Basically, there’s a niche for drones (especially small ones) for recon work.
“Captains have even harder selections most important criteria being independence and capacity to think outside of the box. ”
When we look at skipper performance, like fighter pilot performance, the top 5-10% seem to always be really damn good.
I wonder what makes those 5-10% really good? Is it because they have better critical thinking skills? Is it because they are unusually observant and “see” things that their comrades don’t? Or is it that they are much more aggressive?
“Which is way most submarine captains have high disregard for exercise rules that do not make sense, such as them not being able to target carriers, and ignore such rules resulting in high fatality rates for US carriers in exercise whenever a foreign submarine participates (US carriers have be sunk by Norwegians, Danes, Japanese, Australians and especially Swedes – Gotland probably sunk all US carriers in it’s 2 years lease to the US navy).”
Canadian submarines too, back in the 1980s at least. (In 1981, an Oberon class was able to get into position to sink the USS America during the NATO Ocean Venture exercise.) Note that this was even during the 1980s, an older submarine. More recently, in 2007, the Canadian HMCS Corner Brook in exercise was able to get close to the British carrier HMS Illustrious and hypothetically sink her. Reportedly, the USS Dallas in another exercise was also able to make it happen too.
The point is that these exercises have been quite consistent across nations. There’s good reason the US Navy leased those Swedish submarines, the question is, are they willing to follow through to the logical conclusions?
I am curious as to how you justify pricing it at only 850 million, as a nuclear reactor adds only 400-500 million and the Charles de Gaulle costs 4.5 billion but is only 20 meters longer.
3 billion seems like a much more realistic price tag; vastly reducing the sorties per billion you enumerate.
I am not saying it is impossible to produce a carrier, at the price you claim, I am simply interested in hearing your reasoning, which you do not provide.
20 meters longer, but how much wider? Cost of a ship or aircraft depends in large part on their weight, and you’ll see that carrier’s displacement varies far more than length would suggest:
Click to access a227420.pdf
On page 53, a 6% longer carrier has 32% greater displacement. Nuclear carriers tend to be at least somewhat longer, and far wider, than conventional ones, with consequently far greater displacement. Charles de Gaulle is 262 meters long (6% more) and flight deck width is 64 meters (9% more). Displacement difference will be at least 16-21%. Charles de Gaulle has two nuclear reactors, with each costing maybe 200 million USD. So at worst it is 3 billion USD, yes. But I did state what I based my cost estimate on: UK Invincible class carriers, as I envisaged carriers to be somewhat more austere in general when compared to most modern carriers.
In open waters those smaller carriers have been substituted by high endurance long range maritime patrol aircrafts with jets engines who can react much quicker to submarine detection, helicopters who like the paper said can use active sonar as well as with submarines that hunt for submarines.
Things that the paper did not envisioned was the OV-22’s lack or armament and low ground clearance that keeps it from carrying anything on its belly. No bomb hatch or way of dropping torpedoes either, just a small man-hole there… it is hard to modify since it carries its fuel below the floor deck. A mess.
Because of its high exhaust temperature the F-35B is now officialy burning through all deck surfaces that have been tested, difficult to move mats that can be dragged underneath have been tried but they can fall over-board are an un-pleasent option that no one wants.
We are now developing forward deployed bases capable of operating helicopters, OV-22 and maybe F-35B. These vesels’ design is based on Alaska type oil tankers and will solve the problem of basing in areas where we do not have any… but they can only handle low intensity conflicts.
I think that the Marines landing ships will end up working as small carriers.
Maybe USMC will cover flight deck with asbestos… of course, that would create a whole new set of problems.
What anti-submarine aircraft would you recommend. I am dubious that a CAS plane would be suitable for that work. The S-3 Viking for example had much greater range and a 4-man crew.
I don’t know, if ALX is unsuitable then either I could do a proposal for an anti-submarine aircraft, or an already existing aircraft coud be used. Either way, I’d use turboprop aircraft due to endurance.
As the carrier and it’s aircraft are symbiotically linked, a loss of range on one leads to far greater vulnerability and restricted movement on the other, I wonder whether the flying boat might be the answer to the riddle.
Trying to launch heavily loaded aircraft from a very short runway is always going to have diminishing returns, whether that be in terms of aircraft strength and durability or in terms of capability. Catapults place extreme stress on an airframe ( there are plenty of S-3s in the boneyard with lots of flying hours left on the airframe, but no catapult cycles left) and ski-jumps lead to low loadouts, especially in hot conditions. With conventional powered CVs the question of where you get the steam from to power catapults at short notice is also non-trivial. Apparently EMALS won’t entire alleviate this as the power requirements are fairly extreme.
The need for pressurised multi-crew aircraft to perform AEW and ideally similar types for long endurance ASW has previously lead to the huge super carriers.
If however you could alleviate the need for the latter requirements and provide tanking then you should be able to reduce the size of the carrier considerably as it’s aircraft, unsupported, would merely need to perform the maritime missions of air defence and ASuW. Supported by tankers / AEW the light multiroles onboard could become more offensive.
A Be-200, which is probably a bit too large, can lift 12 tonnes of fuel, enough to fully refuel 5 or 6 Gripen / Tejas class light fighters. Cheap flying boat tenders were common in all navies and the sea state requirements are not as restrictive as one might think. With reasonably accurate forecasting the tender just follows the good weather. In weather too poor to operate the carriers themselves are relatively safe from detection. Even so this doesn’t preclude their use from land.
Such a concept would certainly allow smaller, cheaper carriers with smaller and cheaper aircraft on them.
I doubt any air force in the world would be keen of course….
I think you are looking at statistics without the context. for one, a large carrier is indeed important when facing off a equally matched foe.
I agree that carriers are vital in the transition from sea-to-land. However they are not targets for submarines, they provide better protection from them than anything else in the fleet. The large amount of planes and helicopters allow them to screen a large radius around the fleet well before they submarine even get in to attack distance.
Destroyers cannot do that, while they are better equipped at close combat with submarines, the destroyer will already be in danger when ASROC and torpedoes come in to play.
Of course destroyers have helicopters too, but they are much fewer and can’t cover 360 unlike a carrier.
It is proven in WW2 that the amount of planes the carrier can bring to the skies directly affects the outcome of the battle.
You need more planes than the enemy to attain air superiority, or else you are relying on pilot skills and technical superiority of the planes themselves. Something you can’t always ensure where as numbers have proven to be extremely effective. Especially if you want to have a suitable attack force for all types of threat.
A 40 plane complement in any major war can’t provide suitable anti-shipping, ground attack, fighter and anti-submarine. A few of these will be sacrificed and limit either defense or offensive capability.
Making multiple smaller carriers are more expensive, heavier maintenance and require more manpower than a single large one.
To make multiple small one to “divide the losses” implies they are fodders which they should never be as they are heavily escorted.
It also appears you have been severely misinformed about the losses of Japanese carriers to submarine. Arguably only Unryu and Taiho can be considered good examples, though even then, one can point out particular reasons as to why it still is a wrong assumption.
For one, all the other carriers were either transporting planes and NOT operationally using them. OR were ESCORT CARRIERS. In the case you don’t know what escort carriers are, is that they protect convoys which are prime targets for submarines.
These types are slow, not very protected and not very well compartmentalize. they are also made from transports or cruise liners to cheapen their cost as they are EXPENDABLE for the most part.
Also the Japanese destroyers weren’t known for very effective anti-submarine tactics or equipment unlike the American and British counterparts.
The Americans and British did have their own respective fleet carrier losses to submarine but I would say probably only one or maybe two of which were legitimate submarine success. The others were more on the side of sheer luck or incompetence on the escort’s side.
can go in to more detail
They don’t actually attack submarines themselves though, they spot them or bomb them when submarines are surfaced. But they are useless as much as any large warship when submarines are close. They primarily help support amphibious landings and the convoy with fighter protection. So you see, they are prime target for submarines for a reason, and can’t escape very well.
Fleet carriers however are faster, and modern carriers are better equipped to deal with submarines. Fleet carriers also have large enough load out to spare a few planes for screening where as escort carriers are like scrambling interceptors to stop attacks.
Now in the case of Taiho and Unryu, both would of survived the submarine attack if not due to design faults. Both had poorly placed avgas locations. Unryu also had Ohkas on top of the avgas which let the flaming gas that got ignited to detonate the warheads. unryu actually survived the first torpedo attack. The 2nd one struck the avgas. A fault in many Japanese carriers.
Taiho, actually resumed operation after the attack. But because of poor damage control decision, it spread the explosive gas throughout the ship resulting in it being sunk which otherwise wouldn’t of.
Talking about lies and statistics, carriers being sunk by aircrafts is actually quite common. Midway, coral Sea, Indian Ocean Raid, Guadalcanal campaign, and Philippine sea to name a few. Sure many of them were “scuttled” but that’s because they ships were literally unrecoverable. Unless you tell me any of the Japanese carriers in Midway was recoverable, because it was not yet scuttled. There were very important documents, technology and the hulk might still be captured for whatever purpose. It remained afloat but it is practically useless, easier to make a new carrier instead.
Also if planes carried torpedoes in WW2 and even to mid-coldwar, they can do it today. It simply isn’t practical.
Your argument on a single bomb or missile disabling the flight deck is incorrect for the same reason. I’ll get to that soon enough.
The angled flight deck allow operations on one of the two decks since they aren’t interconnected. Now if it took damage at the end where the arrestor wires are, then yea, but that means a good hit is required to disable the carrier entirely.
Alternatively, a single anti-ship missile or two depending on how big the ship is(and where) is enough to entirely cripple any modern surface combatant. CVs aren’t the only one vulnerable to weaponry of this nature.
And guess why isn’t there torpedoes? Because a strike fighter can carry a pair of short ranged AAM and a few BVR missiles. Or alternatively two anti-ship missiles that have longer range and much faster.
Torpedoes forces the aircraft to get dangerously close. The fact a single plane can disable a ship makes no difference rather it is missiles or torpedoes, since it gets the job done.
A plane can position itself comparatively easily where it can bypass a ship’s defense without need of saturation, unlike surface warships. And if required, the amount of missiles the full aircraft complement it can unleash will indeed saturate the target(s).
You also forgot surface ships have torpedoes not just submarines. Don’t even talk about the different types, since a equivalent submarine launched torpedo can be made to work on a surface ship but obviously it isn’t done due to threats ships normally engages.
The US converted ships to CVE because they are cheap and needed many of them to escort convoys. Send a bunch of these CVEs against a single Shokaku, Essex or the like and they will get utterly destroyed.
You don’t need a bunch of ships to cover the Pacific, US having 140 CVs of all types wouldn’t do that. They need a large enough carrier(IE fleet carriers with 60-90+ planes) to combat all threats while protecting itself and the fleet. Then you need a lot more smaller ones for escort duties since shipping is a massive operation and aren’t grouped like a naval fleet. Particularly convoys only face a few of the many threats compared to a naval fleet so they don;t need a large complement of aircrafts.
Also, if you think searching for nuclear sub’s wake is the only method, then go read up on the various ASW methods. Admittedly submarines are at threat as proven by the mentioned examples but it is not without its fair share of right circumstances at a time when ASW was primitive. Do note that WW2 sub warfare is less effective than WW1.
Yes submarines advanced too, but the battlefield isn’t as unbalanced as before where submarines only threat is a destroyer steaming directly atop of it. Which even then, submarines make much less threat than fellow carriers.
Yes conventional submarines are stealthier, but nuclear submarines have its advantages for its own specific roles. Nuclear submarines are useful in nuclear deterrence and fleet operations. Conventional are in coastal and commerce raiders. Which also shows that the likely encounter a carrier will face is a nuclear one and not a conventional one.
CVs operate in open waters for long time. A submarine need similar capabilities to do so in order to hunt one down. And also the sustained speed required.
Which bring up my final point. conventional VS nuclear. a Nuclear carrier can maintain max speed indefinitely as long as the machinery can handle it. Primarily due to the fuel consumption is not a concern. And your argument on food and plane’s fuel is inaccurate.
As the carrier do not need fuel of its own, more space can be dedicated to the plane’s fuel, ordnance and food supplies. So this already extends it’s operational time.
Another thing to note is that the power required to move such a large ship at such high speed will be very difficult with gas turbines. A nuclear powerplant can do this much more easily and at much smaller space.
BTW I don’t know how you come up with the cost of your design but the Japanese Izumo class is lighter in displacement with smaller aircraft complement and comparable size, yet cost 1.2 billion USD. Your cost estimate makes NO SENSE AT ALL.
I will give you a 1.5 billion at minimum which will be 3 CVs for every one Nimitz. 36 x3, 108 planes. Pretty similar to the Nimitz except more man power and more raw materials. You need 3 set of powerplant, bridge structure and crap for the same amount of planes.
Also no heavy lift helicopters carry main battle tanks, you need strategic airlift which can;t even operate from the largest supercarriers, let alone your light carrier.
“I think you are looking at statistics without the context. for one, a large carrier is indeed important when facing off a equally matched foe.”
Against an equally matched foe, a carrier, especially a large one, is a rather vulnerable target. So it is actually better to split air element on numerous smaller ships.
“I agree that carriers are vital in the transition from sea-to-land. However they are not targets for submarines, they provide better protection from them than anything else in the fleet. The large amount of planes and helicopters allow them to screen a large radius around the fleet well before they submarine even get in to attack distance.
Destroyers cannot do that, while they are better equipped at close combat with submarines, the destroyer will already be in danger when ASROC and torpedoes come in to play.
Of course destroyers have helicopters too, but they are much fewer and can’t cover 360 unlike a carrier.”
Detecting a submarine, particularly diesel one running on batteries, is actually rather difficult. It is enough for submarine to retreat below thermocline to be immune to most forms of detection. Nuclear submarines are easier to detect, but sea is very large. And issue here isn’t necessarily even vulnerability of the carrier itself, but rather vulnerability of its supply chain. And carriers are logistically demanding units.
It is true that carrier is the best counter to submarines, but ocean is a large place, meaning that you’d need a large number of carriers to secure important things such as supply lines. And due to predominantly jet-powered air wing of modern carriers, their ASW capability is still limited. That is partly why my final carrier proposal has third of an air wing composed of turboprop aircraft (you can see it in the link):
“It is proven in WW2 that the amount of planes the carrier can bring to the skies directly affects the outcome of the battle.
You need more planes than the enemy to attain air superiority, or else you are relying on pilot skills and technical superiority of the planes themselves. Something you can’t always ensure where as numbers have proven to be extremely effective. Especially if you want to have a suitable attack force for all types of threat.”
You are thinking in terms of single ships. But what matters is the number of planes in the task force. During late World War II, US carrier battle groups had three Essex-class carriers each, plus two Independence class carriers, if memory serves me well. Smaller carriers allow you to disperse air power when needed for day-to-day tasks such as convoy escorts, and concentrate it for large battles. With large carriers, dispersing air power is not an option. Second problem is that it takes a single missile to a flight deck to put the carrier out of the action, if it hits the proper spot. If you have three carriers, a single hit will only take out a third of the air power.
“A 40 plane complement in any major war can’t provide suitable anti-shipping, ground attack, fighter and anti-submarine. A few of these will be sacrificed and limit either defense or offensive capability.
Making multiple smaller carriers are more expensive, heavier maintenance and require more manpower than a single large one.
To make multiple small one to “divide the losses” implies they are fodders which they should never be as they are heavily escorted.”
Carriers are basically floating boxes. What I proposed is a standard complement, but a different complement is always a possibility. Smaller carriers can be made in a larger number of shipyards, and can be accepted in more drydocks, making production and maintenance easier. They also have more basing options, as larger carriers are limited by their size. And losses in a major war cannot be avoided.
“It also appears you have been severely misinformed about the losses of Japanese carriers to submarine. Arguably only Unryu and Taiho can be considered good examples, though even then, one can point out particular reasons as to why it still is a wrong assumption.
For one, all the other carriers were either transporting planes and NOT operationally using them. OR were ESCORT CARRIERS. In the case you don’t know what escort carriers are, is that they protect convoys which are prime targets for submarines.”
These types are slow, not very protected and not very well compartmentalize. they are also made from transports or cruise liners to cheapen their cost as they are EXPENDABLE for the most part.”
Carriers are the best choice for protecting convoys because they can cover the large area, meaning that encountering submarines cannot be avoided. I do agree that escort carriers are not the best example, but they are necessary, and with modern aircraft, can escort carriers be made and outfitted quickly?
“The angled flight deck allow operations on one of the two decks since they aren’t interconnected. Now if it took damage at the end where the arrestor wires are, then yea, but that means a good hit is required to disable the carrier entirely.”
Since both these decks cross each other, a hit on either the arrestor wires area or the crossing area could completely disable the carrier.
“Alternatively, a single anti-ship missile or two depending on how big the ship is(and where) is enough to entirely cripple any modern surface combatant. CVs aren’t the only one vulnerable to weaponry of this nature.”
Maybe, but due to their versatility, carriers are more important than most big ships.
“You also forgot surface ships have torpedoes not just submarines. Don’t even talk about the different types, since a equivalent submarine launched torpedo can be made to work on a surface ship but obviously it isn’t done due to threats ships normally engages.”
Surface ships typically carry torpedoes only for defense against submarines, but yes, they can carry larger types if required.
“You don’t need a bunch of ships to cover the Pacific, US having 140 CVs of all types wouldn’t do that. They need a large enough carrier(IE fleet carriers with 60-90+ planes) to combat all threats while protecting itself and the fleet. Then you need a lot more smaller ones for escort duties since shipping is a massive operation and aren’t grouped like a naval fleet. Particularly convoys only face a few of the many threats compared to a naval fleet so they don;t need a large complement of aircrafts.”
True, but large nuclear carriers are not good choice for supporting ground troops because they cannot get close to the shore, and that is one of carrier’s tasks. Now, an escort carrier with turboprop attack planes would make for good close air support, but what about fleet defense? Large carriers are good for open ocean, but open ocean warfare is an exception, not the rule. And yes, for convoys, escort carriers are better.
“Yes conventional submarines are stealthier, but nuclear submarines have its advantages for its own specific roles. Nuclear submarines are useful in nuclear deterrence and fleet operations. Conventional are in coastal and commerce raiders. Which also shows that the likely encounter a carrier will face is a nuclear one and not a conventional one.
CVs operate in open waters for long time. A submarine need similar capabilities to do so in order to hunt one down. And also the sustained speed required.”
Not necessarily, carriers are needed to support aphibious landings and such. Meaning that they will have to come close to land at times at least. In fact, the only example of open-ocean combat I can recall was the Battle of the Atlantic. All other types were about either attacking or defending an installation or area on land (typically islands).
“Which bring up my final point. conventional VS nuclear. a Nuclear carrier can maintain max speed indefinitely as long as the machinery can handle it. Primarily due to the fuel consumption is not a concern. And your argument on food and plane’s fuel is inaccurate.
As the carrier do not need fuel of its own, more space can be dedicated to the plane’s fuel, ordnance and food supplies. So this already extends it’s operational time.
Another thing to note is that the power required to move such a large ship at such high speed will be very difficult with gas turbines. A nuclear powerplant can do this much more easily and at much smaller space.”
True, but see my previous point. Maximum speed capability is less useful than you think, since operations are typically in littoral areas. And my point was that even a nuclear carrier still requires supplies, which can be cut off by submarines.
“BTW I don’t know how you come up with the cost of your design but the Japanese Izumo class is lighter in displacement with smaller aircraft complement and comparable size, yet cost 1.2 billion USD. Your cost estimate makes NO SENSE AT ALL.”
By comparing it to multiple other carriers.
“Also no heavy lift helicopters carry main battle tanks, you need strategic airlift which can;t even operate from the largest supercarriers, let alone your light carrier.”
They could carry light tanks though; CH-54 can lift 9 tons, CH-47 can lift 10 tons, Mi-10 can carry 8-15 tons.