The enemies of atomic floating airfields are not only Russian and Chinese missiles, but also sloppiness, which in Russia is usually called the Russian disease.
The U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, located on the east coast, is crammed with aircraft carriers standing at the pier and on the docks, Breaking Defense reports. None of them are able to go to sea on alert due to serious technical and organizational problems.
The situation is as follows:
1. CVN-69 “Dwight Eisenhower” during a comprehensive exercise before deployment broke down and was sent for repair.
2. CVN-73 “George Washington” came out of the dry dock, but two more years will undergo major repairs and subsequent refueling. It will be ready to go to sea in the second half of 2021.
3. CVN-74 John C. Stennis prepares for overhaul.
4. CVN-75 “Harry Truman” after refueling before deployment unexpectedly broke and was sent for repair.
5. CVN-77 “George W. Bush” is preparing for dry docking.
6. The new type aircraft carrier CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford was handed over to the fleet 2.5 years ago, but is still undergoing testing. The air group is not formed.
On the basis of Norfolk there are based 6 of the above aircraft carriers, “responsible” for the Atlantic Ocean. All of them are in a non-operational state.
In total, the United States has 11 aircraft carriers. But with the other five, the situation is not much better. Assigned to the base of Yokosuka located in Japan, the aircraft carrier CVN-76 “Ronald Reagan” has been under repair for a long time, several years.
On the west coast, the United States has two naval bases – Kitsap and San Diego. The situation there is like that. CVN-68 “Nimitz”, which is already 45 years old, after a busy period of work in the Pacific region undergoes a long scheduled repair. The scheduled repair of the aircraft carrier CVN-70 Carl Vinson will be completed next summer. After which it will be sent to comprehensive exercises. CVN-71 “Theodore Roosevelt” is being renovated.
And only one aircraft carrier – CVN-72 “Abraham Lincoln” – is currently on alert in the Middle East. The standard six-month duty period has already been completed, but it is not known when it will be possible to return to the base.
Actually, the replacement for “Abraham Lincoln” was already sent to “Harry Truman”. However, the aircraft carrier had to return to Norfolk base due to a failure in the electrical networks.
The situation was commented on by the Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Navy, Admiral Robert Burke. Speaking at the annual conference of military journalists, he said that “the fleet is very concerned about the problems on the aircraft carrier.” Burke suggested that the Harry Truman might be ready to go “in weeks, not months.”
Although the “Abraham Lincoln” does not fully share the optimism of the admiral. The entire carrier strike group, led by an aircraft carrier, came to replenish supplies at the base of the 5th operational fleet in Bahrain. Since it is not known how long the sailors still have to be on duty.
It is understandable that maintaining the full combat readiness of all 11 American aircraft carriers is required only in the final phase of preparation for a world war. And even that will not work, but 90 percent combat readiness is quite achievable. In a normal situation, it is enough to have 3 combat-ready aircraft carriers, which will be planned to be replaced by ships that are undergoing successive repairs, upgrades and other necessary measures.
However, one that has nothing to hedge is clearly not enough. The U.S. Navy has never been in such a deplorable state. True, the Russian aircraft carrier fleet has been in this state for decades.
And in Norfolk they are trying to straighten out the situation purely in Russian, with an emergency. Things went so far as to repair the “Harry Truman” repair crews working on two other aircraft carriers were removed. Moreover, they are partially removed equipment for the restoration of the performance of “Truman”.
The US Navy is nervous. This is evident if only because the Pentagon, according to Breaking Defense, accuses Huntington Ingalls Industries of building and maintaining aircraft carriers of all deadly sins. The main complaint relates to the fact that the new aircraft carrier Gerald Ford, which was supposed to be fully operational in 2018, continues to be completed. And the end of this protracted process is now expected in 2020 or even in 2021. The Pentagon says Huntington Ingalls Industries senior management competency is very low.
Chris Miner, vice president of aircraft carrier services at Newport News Shipbuilding, in turn accuses the U.S. Navy command of incompetent planning.
– There have always been problems regarding the order of priority for the repair of aircraft carriers. A small queue could even form. But nothing like what we are seeing now has ever happened. Not enough capacity in order to simultaneously repair all aircraft carriers at once. And there is nothing we can do about it.
In general, mutual accusations of the collapse of the carrier fleet reached such a degree that this problem was tabled in the US Congress.
Congress, of course, thinks in the most global categories. The current critical situation is dangerous because congressmen believe that the United States is losing the opportunity to compete “with an ever-growing military threat” from the rapidly developing armed forces of Russia and China. Like, with a pair of capable aircraft carrier strike groups (AUG) there is nothing to think about maintaining hegemony on the globe.
However, there is a feeling that the United States is overestimating the role of carrier aircraft in “maintaining world order.” In the first half of the last century, aircraft carriers, indeed, possessed significant combat power. And they made a significant contribution to the success of large air operations.
In the second half, their role declined. They became, perhaps, an instrument of political pressure, a weapon of intimidation. And towards the end of the last century, their role in conducting massive operations was insignificant.
The largest post-war operation, in which the U.S. aircraft carriers participated, was the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. for the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq. Six aircraft carriers took part in it – from the Midway built in 1945 to Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently undergoing repairs.
For two and a half months of operation, attack aircraft of all six aircraft-carrying groups completed 18,117 sorties, in which mainly F / A -18 Hornet carrier-based aircraft took part. Over the same period, ground-based aircraft made more than 98 thousand sorties. Moreover, her missile and bomb strikes were more powerful, since strategic bombers took part in the operation.
So now a “psychic attack”, when an American aircraft carrier approaches a strong state “rebelled” against the USA, does not make a special impression on the “rebels”. This we have recently observed off the coast of Iran.
In this century, the situation of American aircraft carriers was significantly complicated by the fact that Russia and China had new-generation missile weapons. What makes it almost impossible for the AUG to approach the shores of Russia and China on the range of carrier-based aviation. F / A-18 Super Hornet aircraft have a combat radius of about 750 km. The F-35 is not much more.
So, AUG cannot come closer to the Chinese coast closer than 1500 km. Because China created the world’s first ballistic anti-ship missile DF-21D, which has such a range. This is a powerful weapon that develops hypersonic speed, which the Aegis missile defense system is not able to intercept.
Russia has also recently acquired an “unarmoured” weapon – the Tu-22M3M missile carrier, armed with X-32 near-hypersonic missiles. The aircraft can launch missiles on the AUG without entering the zone of its air defense, because the range of the missiles is 1000 km. Well, the probability of intercepting one missile is so small that a volley of two or three missiles is guaranteed to hit the target. Tu-22M3M can carry exactly 3 X-32 missiles.
So the era of “colonial wars” has remained far behind. The era of aircraft carriers is approaching the end. Their contribution to air operations compared to ground aviation will be inexorably reduced.