Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation:
In an age of guerrilla warfare and counterinsurgency operations, many U.S. officials appear content to overlook the importance of conventional weapons such as the aircraft carrier. That’s a serious mistake.
There’s no doubt that an additional aircraft carrier today wouldn’t help the efforts in Iraq or Afghanistan as much as, say, a couple additional brigades of infantry or a few more battalions of Special Forces. But while it takes time to stand up more troops, particularly SF types, getting a retired carrier back into duty or building a new one is far more lengthy and expensive. And the problems that require an additional carrier are not they kind of problems that are likely to wait until we can get a new ship up to speed.
To maintain 11 carriers, the Navy will have to procure seven CVN-78 Gerald R. Ford class aircraft carriers between 2009 and 2038. Under current plans, however, a shortfall to 10 carriers is projected to occur between November 2012, when the Navy decommissions the Enterprise, and September 2015, when the Gerald R. Ford is expected to be commissioned.
In reality, this projected three-year gap will be longer, perhaps much longer. Not only will it take an additional 30 months for the Ford to become operationally ready to deploy after commissioning, but in all likelihood construction delays will push back the planned commissioning date even further. The result could be a five- or six-year period where the Navy has only 10 carriers.
Murdoc is worried that 11 is not enough. 10 is asking for trouble.