+/- 11 US “White-Elephants/Dinosaurs”...use Nimitz/derived Nimitz hull design through 2070’s/even 2080’s ?, a FOLLY !……7/8 ships is a more REALISTIC (strategically, tactically, politically, financially) fleet…
1 CVN of the Enterprise type
1st nuclear powered carrier in the world.
- CVN 61 Enterprise, commissioned 1961, to be retired late 2012 after a last one very expensive foolish ! overhaul in 2008/2009 (more than 663 $ million compared with a initial 453 $ million estimate cost……this only for one or a doubtful two last deployement…). To be replaced by the 1st CVN 78 class (USS Gerald.R.ford) by 2015.
3 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-I
Nuclear powered improved and enlarged version/successor to the “CVA 67 USS John F Kennedy”. With 50 years service life expected. Heavily/Expensively modernized during there mid-life refit (RCOH):
- CVN 68 USS Nimitz, commissioned 1975, RCOH 1998/2001, to be retired by 2025. Likely to be a possible target ? for a prematurely retirement in the next major fleet cuts around 2012-2019 ?
- CVN 69 USS Dwight-D-Eisenhower, commissioned 1977, RCOH 2001/2005, to be retired by 2027. Maybe a possible target ?? for a prematurely retirement in the next major fleet cuts around 2012-2019 ?
- CVN 70 USS Carl-Vinson, Commissioned 1982, RCOH 2005/2009, to be retired by 2032.
5 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-II (Theodore-Roosevelt sub-class)
Slightly improved Nimitz (With improved armor and several minor improvement). With 50 years service life expected:
- CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt, commissioned 1986, RCOH on the way, 2009/2012, to be retired by 2036.
- CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln, commissioned 1989, RCOH expected 2012/2015, to be retired by 2039. Maybe prematurely retired toward the late 2010’s decade if the next major fleet cuts cancel this expensive RCOH ?
- CVN 73 George-Washington, commissioned 1992, forward deployed CVN, RCOH expected around 2015/2018, to be retired by 2042. Maybe prematurely retired toward the late 2010’s decade if the next major fleet cuts cancel this expensive RCOH ?
- CVN 74 John-C-Stennis, commissioned 1995, RCOH maybe expected around 2018/2021, to be retired by 2045.
- CVN 75 Harry-Truman, commissioned 1998, RCOH maybe expected around 2021/2024, to be retired by 2049.
2 CVN of the Nimitz class batch-III (Ronald Reagan sub-class)
Slightly improved Theodore.Roosevelt sub-class (with modified island, several minors improvements). In fact, this 9th and 10th were +/- a “transitional sub-class ship” between Nimitz and Gerald.R.Ford class. With 50 years service life expected.
- CVN 76 Ronald-Reagan, commissioned 2003, RCOH maybe expected around 2026/2029, to be retired by 2053.
- CVN 77 George-H-W-Bush commissioned 2010, RCOH maybe expected around 2033/2036, to be retired by 2060.
And the US Navy was planned to build:
3 CVN of the Gerald R Ford Class
Directly derived from the Nimitz class/sub-class’s, but with many major/minor improvements (new island design, fewer and newer deck lift, newer nuclear reactor, newer electrical catapults, a slightly crew reduction). With 50 years service life expected.
- CVN 78 USS Gerald-R-Ford, to be commissioned by 2015, RCOH maybe expected around 2038/2042, to be retired by 2065.
- CVN 79 (not yet nammed), ordered by 2013, to be commissioned by 2020/2021, RCOH maybe expected around 2044/2047 and retired by 2070. Maybe to replace, in the fleet, at the worse, the early retired USS Nimitz if severe budgets cuts occurred during the 2010’s.
- CVN 80 (not yet nammed), ordered by 2018, to be commissioned by 2025/2026, RCOH maybe expected around 2048/2051, to be retired by 2074/2075. Officially to replace the USS Nimitz by 2024/2025, but if fleet cuts occurred and that the Nimitz was prematurely retired. It is clear that in fact the CVN 80 replace CVN 69 Dwight-D-Eisenhower around 2025/2027.
After CVN 80, great question ?...
The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring one newer big carrier every 5 years through 2010’s-2040 :
- (CVN 81 ?) ordered in 2023 and commissioned around 2030, to replace CVN 69 Dwigh. Eisenhower or more likely CVN 70 Carl Vinson.
- (CVN 82 ?) ordered in 2028 and commissioned around 2035, to replace CVN 70 Carl Vinson or more likely CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt.
- (CVN 83 ?) ordered in 2033 and commissioned around 2040, to replace CVN 71 Theodore-Roosevelt or more likely CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln.
- (CVN 84 ?) ordered in 2038 and commissioned around 2045, to replace CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln or more likely CVN 73 George-Washington.
Although more CVN was planned through 2040 under the current plan, he is NOT TOTALLY SURE that the following carriers (CVN 81……) are from the CVN 78 class !
Expected future cuts in the US carrier’s fleet ?…
Facts: The cost of these CVN, a major concern……
If the lastest Nimitz carrier (USS George.H.W.Bush) cost +/- 7 $ billion, the 1st Gerald-R-Ford cost +/- 14 $ billion (R & D include) and the 2 next reached +/- 10/12 $ billion per copy. For this, in 2009 it was decided to build a new carrier only every 5 years (rather than previously every 4 years). In fact, with cost escalation/inflation, its become clear than by late 2010’s/early 2020’s, the cost of a later 100 000 tons CVN 78 class ships reach easily +/- 15 $ billion (or even worse….)
And even the cost of there mid-life modernisation (RCOH) is a major concern…
- The 1998/2001 RCOH for the USS Nimitz cost +/- 1,8 $ billion.
- The 2005/2008 RCOH for the USS Carl Vinson cost +/- 3,1 $ billion.
- The 2009/2012 RCOH for the USS Theodore-Roosevelt was expected to cost +/- 3,3 $ billion…
But with future probable expected cuts in the US fleet. The temptation may be very great to disarm prematurely 1 or 2 carrier’s (even 3 ? at the maximum) without replacement :
- Either to retire prematurely the earlier ageing Nimitz’s CVN.
- Either to cancel the heavy and expensive mid-life modernization (RCOH) of 1 or 2 later Nimitz’s planned through 2010’s decade (CVN 72 Abraham-Lincoln, RCOH expected 2012/2015 or CVN 73 George-Wahsington, RCOH expected around 2015/2018) and, by result, accelerate their prematurely retirement without “direct” replacement by the late 2010’s decade.
- Maybe more likely a mix, retire prematurely the USS Nimitz and cancel the RCOH of one CVN planned during 2012-2019 period (CVN 72 or CVN 73 ?).
- Either to cancel the procurement of a one or two CVN 78 class (very doubtful, because the construction of these vessels provided a lot of work to U.S. shipyards and avoid a lost of strategic skills).
And although larger ships have many advantages over smaller:
- More able to withstand torpedoes, bombs, missiles damages.
- Bigger and higher hull, for better seakeeping quality.
- Larger fuel tanks, for longer range/autonomy.
- More bigger = more politicaly/deterrent effective (is 90 000 tons of diplomacy).
- Larger hull = larger hangar = larger airwing.
Infortunatly the rising cost of big CVN will push the Americans to slow down their buildings. But this is not a long term solution. In fact, it becomes clear that in future, with UAVs is increasing onboard, with a 100,000 tons ship cost +/- 15 $ billion (or even much more by 2020’s), a VERY strong need for reducing expensive crew and newer threats capable of sinking large ships. The need to develop new, smaller , advanced (and survivable) vessels will be felt…
Smaller ships have fewer but interesting advantages:
- Cheaper ship.
- Very much lesser “crew expensive”.
- +/- usually more "manœuvrable".
- Smaller hull = usually more stealthy.
- More cheaper = able to be built in greater number = more sea presence.
With future trend in aircraft cost (trend expected to last very long), a smaller airwing has not longer a disadvantage, because with very high aircraft cost, even the big carrier’s don’t be able to carry a full airwing (+/- 80/90 aircraft), currently only 65/70 aircraft on board Nimitz’s and in foreseable future, will expect to carry only 50/60 aicraft per 90 000 tons CVN, a lot of folly ! To do this, why have big carrier’s (which can carry up to 90 aircrafts) if you can afford only much smaller airwing.
My opinion: Better to have only +/- 7/8 smaller (but better, advanced, automated, stleathly) new 58/68000 tons “pure” aircraft carrier design
Personnaly, I think that the better solution was to stop the CVN 78 class and buy smaller and cheaper ships : ideally, finish the CVN 78 (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on CVN 79/80 and begin to study smaller CVN alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022, ideals characteristics:
- A smaller “pure” 58/68 000 tons nuclear powered aircraft carrier design, around 278/290 meters length.
- Extremely and Radically much less “crew expensive” than older designs (+/- 5000 sailors for a US Nimitz; +/- 4500 sailors for the newest US Gerald R Ford); With likely only around 1000/1500 sailors for a “pure” new advanced +/- 60000 tons aircraft carriers, +/- similar (in size terms) to the lastest british Queen-Elizabeth design.
- A very advanced design, much more “stealthy” than a Nimitz or a Gerald-R-Ford (Hull, island, noise propulsion…).
- Very likely with a monohull (a more radically advanced catamaran or trimaran hull were unlikely because probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost), maybe with a wave piercing hull ?, likely with a radicaly new integrated/compact/stealthy island and clearer hull/superstructures.
- With a slightly smaller airwing than the current Nimitz Airwing (Currently onboard Nimitz’s, +/- 65/70 aicrafts), maybe around 40/55 aircrafts/helico/UAV in this new medium carrier.
- Full UAV capable.
- With probably 2 or 4 conventionnal shaft or even pods ?
- With probably the newest nuclear reactor (similar than onboard CVN 78 class), without need for a expensive refueling during their mid-life refit.
+/- 9/10 US Gator’s (LHD/LHA), use the 1968’s Tarawa hull design through late 2050’s/early 2060’s ?
2 LHA of the Tarawa class
40 000 tons, 1st major pure big helico-carriers/amphibious ships with well decks. Initially (1970’s) with 20 years service life, during 1990’s extended to +/- 30/33 years service life expected. Now, some U.S. politicians trying desperately to reduce the decline of the fleet, are lobbying to keep these 2 last ageing ships for a another decade. But it is very likely that it can succeed.
- LHA 4 Nassau, commissioned 1979, to be retired by 2012/2013.
- LHA 5 Pelelieu, commissioned 1980, to be retired by 2012/2013.
In fact, these 2 ships will be replaced by only one new ship, the USS LHA 6 America by 2012/2013.
8 LHD of the Wasp class
41 000 tons, slightly improved “Tarawa” design (clearer full fligh deck, flight deck lift moved for better aviation movement onboard, modified island). The 8th and final ship of this class (USS Makin-Island), incorporate some improvement in propulsion and others systems (in fact, this 8th ship, cost +/- 2 $ billion, is a transitional ship between Wasp and America class). With a probable 35 full years service life expected (maybe likely extended to +/- 38/40 years for some ships if the US Navy desperately want to reduce the fall of the fleet size or.....for a few others (likely the most ageing vessel), if future budget cuts fleet occurred, 1 or 2 oldest ships will be prematurely retired ?).
- LHD 1 Wasp, commissioned 1989, to be retired by 2024/2029. Likely to be replaced by LHA 9 (if any fleets cuts/early retirement occurred before…).
- LHD 2 Essex, commissioned 1992, to be retired by 2027/2032. Likely to be replaced by LH(X) 1.
- LHD 3 Kearsage, commissioned 1993, to be retired by 2028/2033. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 2.
- LHD 4 Boxer, commissioned 1995, to be retired by 2030/2035. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 2.
- LHD 5 Bataan, commissioned 1997, to be retired by 2032/2037. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 3.
- LHD 6 Bonhomme-Richard, commissioned 1998, to be retired by 2033/2038. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 3.
- LHD 7 Iwo-Jima, commissioned 2001, to be retired by 2036/2041. To be partially replaced or not by LH(X) 4.
- LHD 8 Makin-Island, commissioned 2009, to be retired by 2044/2049. To be maybe replaced (or not ?) by a additional/improved LH(X) “5” or by a newest LHA(X) design/concept ?
In fact, it become clear that this entire class of 8 ships will be replaced by +/- 7 new ships (3 LHA 6 America class, 4 LH(X)).
1 (up to 4) LHA of the America class
45000 tons, In fact, only slightly improved Wasp design (hybrid propulsion, enhanced aviation capabilities, without well decks for amphibious operation for the 1st ship, but very serious US Marines concerns about the lack of well decks probably means that later ships of this class will be modified to re-carry a well deck…=…additional costs…). With a probable 35 or 40 full years service life expected. Estimate cost per ship: 3,8-4,3 billion The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 3 others LHA 6 class (by 2011, 2016, 2021) to replace progressively earlier ageing Wasp class.
- LHA 6 America, to be commissioned by 2012, to replace partially LHA-4 Nassau & LHA-5 Pelelieu. To be retired by 2042/2052.
- LHA 7 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2011, to be commissioned by 2016.
- LHA 8 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2016, to be commissioned by 2020/2021. US Marines hope that this ship “re-carry" a well decks…
- LHA 9 (not yet named), to be ordered by 2021, to be commissioned by 2026. Likely to “re-carry” a well decks.
In fact, don’t forget that all current US LHD/LHA design were DIRECTLY derived from the Tarawa LHA class (the 1st ship, USS Tarawa, was keel laid down in 1971, launched in 1973, in service by 1976), this means that the ship was designed around 1968 !!!
Toward 4 new LH(X) thought 2020’s/2030’s ?
The current US Navy’s 30-year (FY2011-FY2040) shipbuilding plan calls for procuring 4 LH(X) in the 2020’s/2030’s to replace progressively ageing later Wasp class:
- LH(X) 1 (not yet named). Ordered by 2025 ?
- LH(X) 2 (not yet named). Ordered by 2029 ?
- LH(X) 3 (not yet named). Ordered by 2033 ?
- LH(X) 4 (not yet named). Ordered by 2038 ?
The 1st ship, LH(X) 1 will be probably ordered by mid 2020’s, commissioned around 2030. The 3 “followers” will be ordered by late 2020’s/late 2030’s and commissioned by 2034/mid 2045. These 4 LHX will re retired by +/- 2065/2980.
Probable ship’s caracterictics:
- Very unlikely to use the Wasp/America hull, because, by 2020’s, when the first LH(X) would be authorized under the current plan, the initial Wasp/America hull design would be about 60 years old (issued from the 1968’s Tarawa hull). And I considers it unlikely that a hull ship design that originated in the late 1960’s will prove robust enough to accommodate changes designed to counter threats at sea until the 2070’s (when the LH(X)s would be reaching the end of their 35/40 year service life).
- Very probably to use a new hull design and likely a Monohull type (to reduce cost), because a much more advanced hull form (trimaran) probably each a astronomical cost.
- Probably +/- same size as the America class, 240/250 meters, 45 000/50 000 tons.
- Very likely to carry a radically newer island design (more compact/stealthy), with full phased array radar and integrated mast.
- Unfortunately, although its become clear than in future, crew reduction/ships automation will become a RULE (to save operational cost), I doubt seriously that in this future LHX design, the American engineers choose to radically reduce the ship crew (from +/- 1100 in Wasp’s to 380/500 sailors for example). I think that, in fact, the crew reduction in this LHX design will be only slight/moderate (from 1100 to 750/900).
- With two conventional centerline shaft or maybe pods ?
- Likely all electrics propulsions.
- Probably have some weight growth margin, modular/flexible design, for future upgrade.
- Probably armed with lastest CIWS system (Laser ?).
- Full UAV/UUV/SV capable.
- Very probably conventionally powered, and this, although through 2030’s/2070’s, with oil price up even dramatically, the cost-effectiveness of nuclear versus conventional propulsion rise again. Or even use “pure Green fuel” ?
- With cost escalation/inflation, likely to cost much more than a America class (current estimates: 3,5/4,3 $ billion). The future LHX likely reach around 5 billion $ per unit in the late 2020’s, without problems (or even much more ? 6/8 ?)…
- Very likely to replace not at “1 for 1 basis” the later Wasp class (through 2020/2030, AT THE BEST around 4 new LHX to replace +/- 5/6 later Wasp LHD).
- It is clear that this future program will be, like Wasp’s today, a major program for several decades (late 2020’s-late 2040’s) and that the design will be improved (likely 2 Flight/Batch). Maybe the earlier America's ships will be replaced by a improved LHX “batch 2” ? toward late 2040’s/mid 2050’s ?
My opinion: Better to have only +/- 8 NEW advanced (and modern, stealthy) 35 000/45 000 tons LHX design
Personnaly, I think that the better solution was to stop the LHA 6 America class and buy slightly smaller but cheaper ships : ideally, finish the LHA 6 America (because this ship is “now too in advanced building process and too expensive to cancel”), but stop immediately work on next LHA 7/8 ships and begin to study newer LHX alternative’s for a 1st ship commissioned by 2020/2022:
- A radically newer 33 000/48 000 tons, 240/250 meters monohull design (a catamaran or trimaran hull design, although more efficient, unfortunately probably reach a ASTRONOMICAL cost).
- Likelly with a full clearer flight deck and a smaller/compact/stleatlier island than on board the Wasp/America class.
- With a radically less expensive crew onboard (currently on Wasp’s, +/- 1100 sailors + 1800 troops on board), maybe around only 380/500 sailors + 1500/1800 troops onboard).
- Maybe with 2 conventionnal shaft but probably more likely 2 or 4 pods.
- With well decks (for amphibious use and avoid the LHA 6 class error of omitted the well decks).
- With fewer (and more costly) VSTOL aircraft, helico & UAV on board.
- Design type ?, probably heavily influenced by recent newest foreign design: (French "Mistral " design : 16/21000 tons, 199 meters, 18 knots, 160 sailors + 450/900 troops, 16 to 32 helico + up to 59 vehicles; Spanish "Juan Carlos I": 27 000 tons, 230 meters, 21 knots, 410 sailors + 900 troops, 20 to 30 helico + 40 vehicles; South-Korean "Dokdo": 14/18 000 tons, 199 meters, 23 knots, 700 sailors + 720 troops, 10 to 15 helico + one dozens of vehicles). Or even (on paper) others foreign design (Dutch "Enforcer 22000/30000" family or German "MRD 10 000/MHD 150 "family").
Without doubt a newer (and similar foreign style design) but much enlarged/bigger/robust US design (35000/45000 tons; 240/250 meters, 21/23 knots) will carry 380/680 sailors, 1500/1800 troops, 24 to 36 UAV/Helico/VSTOL aircrafts and 60/80 heavy vehicles + future LCAC(X).
US Naval Aviation, at...the crossroad...
US NAVY (estimations)
F/A-18 Hornet : 1st delivered by 1983, last by 2000. +/- 408 active (late 2008): 74 F/A-18A; 26 F/A-18B; 286 F/A-18C; 47 F/A-18D. All to be replaced by +/- 340/480 F-35C through mid 2010’s/late 2020’s decade.
F/A-18 E/F Super-Hornet: 1st delivered in 1999, last around mid/late 2010’s decade. Currently around 332 in service (156 F/A-18E; 176 F/A-18F), a total of 515 expected by mid 2015. Likely to be replaced around late 2020’s/late 2030’s by a newer F/A-XX program.
- 81 ageing EA-6 B Growler to be replaced by 85 new EA-18 G around 2011/2014.
- 67 Hawkeye E2-C, to be replaced by newer E2-D.
- 30/36 MH-53E (mineweesper role).
- CH-46, to be replaced by 48 new OV-22 Osprey.
Maritime patrol aircrafts:
- +/- 130/170 ageing P3-C/EP3-E Orion, to be replaced by +/- 117 new expected P8 Poseidon through early 2010's/late 2020's decades.
- 34 C-2A, maybe to be replaced by new OV-22 Osprey.
- 9 C-40A Clipper.
- 36 F-5 (26 F-5E; 4 F-5F; 6 F-5N).
- 49 T-6A.
- 229 T-34C.
- 52 T-44A.
- 218 T-45C .
- 49 HH-60H (SAR).
- 119 MH-60 (10 LH-60R; 109 MH-60S) (Multi-purpose).
- 179 SH-60 (129 SH-60B; 60 SH-60F) (ASW).
- TH-57 (44 TH-57B; 85 TH-57C) (Training).
- MQ-8 Fire Scout.
US Marine Corps (estimations)
- 340 F-35 B expected to replace +/- 99 ageing AV8-B Harriers and +/- 238 (late 2008) F/A-18 A/B/C/D (1st delivered by 1983, last by 2000).
- 167 AH-1W, to be replaced by 226 new AH-1Z.
- +/- 152/178 CH-53 D/E (late 2008), to be replaced by 227 new CH-53K by 2015/2022.
- 360 OV-22 Osprey expected.
- Ageing UH-1N to be replaced by 123 new UH-1Y by 2016.
- 29 KC-130J.
Obviously the severals problems faced by the F-35 make replacement of ageing aircrafts rather problematic (at the end, it is possible that less than half of the expected aircraft will be eventually delivered !)
Yes, I know, in this editorial, a few others auxiliary (Logistics, training) aircrafts/helico are absent (NU-1B Otter, C-12 Huron, C-20 Gulfstream, C-26 metroliner, C-37 Gulfstream, a few future acquisition programs) . But I do not have forgotten, I just lack time to fully complete this editorial. In the next update of it, I will complete (if you have more accurate data, share this !)
its become clear that in a foreseeable future (2011-late 2040’s) it will be impossible and unsustainable (financially speaking) for the US Navy to :
- Maintain 11 big 90 000/100 000 tons CVN, each with 5000 sailors and 65/80 aicrafts on board….
- Maintain 10/11 big 40/45 000 tons LHD, each with 1100 sailors and 30/35 helico on board.
- Buy 550/600 F-35 B/C (especially with a 150-200 $ million per copy).
The US Navy needs to reconsider its plans and buy:
- More modern
design warships "Flattops".
Next editorial: Future of the Italian Fleet.
It may be that in my opinion, I forgot programs ? (or made few mistales ?), then said it ! Feel free to comment and give your opinion !