Early Retirement for a Nimitz Carrier? | Defense Tech
People who persist in claiming that we need fewer CVNs because the Cold War is over have no knowledge of what the US military does or the nature of the threats we face. The far messier world we live in now demands more US Navy presence and fast reactions in more places than we had to worry about 30 years ago. Under current conditions we need 12 to 15 Carrier Battle Groups (CVBGs) and 6 to 9 LHD/LHA based Amphibious Ready Groups (they keep changing the names). We also need guns, real guns bigger than 5", and the new amphibs have only a 30mm pop gun. The Marines deserve better. Remember that most people live within range of modern naval gunfire. Iraq and Afghanistan are aberrations in that regard.
We do need to strengthen our ties with Australia and India, as well as Japan Korea Taiwan Vietnam and The Philippines. Wonderful as the Nimitz class is it is the wrong ship for their needs. What they need are two things. First they need conventional submarines. We should build 3 dozen Air Independent Propulsion silent boats and sell half of them to those threatened by the rise of China. We should also help Israel to double her submarine fleet. The Dutch and Germans have good designs as do the Swedes.
Second we should help the Australians gain an Air Force that can patrol and control the vast ocean space that surrounds them and react to a possible thrust by China through the South China Sea. The best way to do that would be to give them the old B-52s that are being chopped up in conformance with the SALT Treaty, a treaty with a country that no longer exists. Those 50-55 year old planes if reengined would still be good for another 30 years. They are incredible aircraft and if teamed with AWACS and long range radars in lighter than air craft could dominate the region and prevent major conflicts for decades. Note, I know all but around a dozen of the B-52Gs are gone now but the principle applies.
The idea of transferring the old Nimitz class CVNs to the UK and/or France as the Fords come online is not completely without merit but is unlikely to happen. They are old, expensive to maintain, and European financial, labor and political interests would probably prefer spending almost the same money not building new ships of their own to buying ours.
Right now we are looking at a US Navy smaller than it has been since 1916. Even the best ships can only be in one place at a time, and the new LCS that ate the budget is nobody's idea of the best ship. The Royal Navy, like the other components of the UK MoD, is essentially out of business. They are now a Coast Guard. The Argentinians can have the Falklands any time they like. The combined firepower of the European Union proved unable to crush Libya.