The light carrier studies will determine if the small carrier is worth the effort to add to the US fleet. One of the considerations is how they will fit into the overall strategy.
Having supercarriers is advantageous for any nation, but they are high maintenance, yet small carriers are lighter on the budget alternative.
Why small carriers?
Naval engineers are working on smaller carrier designs incorporated in a joint force as supercarrier replacements or added to a carrier strike group at less cost. These ships are less complicated and very cost-effective as well, reported USNI.
It originated last year from the Pentagon-led Future Naval Force Study that brought about the small carrier option. Both the Navy and Marine Corps were not entertaining having smaller carriers. Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper envisioned ways to bring down costs in building and maintaining ships.
One of these reasons is that nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are high maintenance and logistically challenging to deal with at Navy-run public shipyards. Smaller and conventionally powered small carriers are less complicated.
According to the Future Naval Force Study (FNFS) and Battle Force 2045, that will see the addition of at least six small carriers. Light carrier studies show that these ships may be beneficial to the American fleet.
Naval designers are beginning to work on it
Naval Sea Systems Command is starting to begin with the small carrier design within the engineering and logistics directorate (SEA 05) tasked with the project.
Rear Adm. Jason Lloyd is the SEA 05 commander and deputy commander in charge of everything connected to the building and other aspects of the project. His job is to get the specs on paper and figure out how much it will cost the navy or if they want to spend the money.
Will it be an expensive Ford-class carrier or a small carrier? This is what the US Navy should consider according to Future Naval Force Study.
All about small carriers
The US Navy has several options for future force design, either for an American class ship or a Ford-class light. Both emphasize a move from supermassive Nimitz or the newer Ford-class supercarrier, the most expensive boats in any naval force.
A modern aircraft carrier is more advanced than any ship afloat. Many features are optimized to launch aircraft off its flat top equipped with either a steam catapult or a newer magnetic type Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and arrestor system for launching and landing planes.
For small carriers (CVL), the loss of massive size will have shortcomings and save costs. Though what it will look like will be anyone's guess. Naval designers might have to check older naval studies to see other options.
Smaller carriers still need to carry planes.
US Navy force ship still needs an aircraft carrier; the light carrier studies stress that even a small flat top is better than none. A larger carrier can sort more planes by far, but having F-35s on a smaller flat top gives it a lethal punch.
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