Acting Secretary of the US Navy Thomas B. Modly has announced that he is commissioning a Task Force to conduct a six-month study to reimagine the future of the aircraft carrier and carrier-based naval aviation.
“The long-term challenges facing our nation and the world demand clear-eyed assessments and hard choices,” said Modly.
“Because we have four new Ford carriers under contract, we have some time to reimagine what comes next. Any assessment we do must consider cost, survivability, and the critical national requirement to sustain an industrial base that can produce the ships we need—ships that will contribute to a superior, integrated naval force for the 2030s and far beyond. Aircraft carrier construction sustains nearly 60,000 skilled jobs in over 46 states. It can’t be simply turned on and off like a faucet. We must be thoughtful in how we approach changes as they will have lasting impacts on our national industrial competitiveness and employment.”
“Our future strength will be determined as much by the gray matter we apply to our challenges as the gray hulls we build,” added Modly. “We need the best minds from both inside and outside of government focused on this issue.”
According to a US Navy release:
“The goal at the end of the study is to provide a report to the secretary of the Navy detailing a vision of the competitive global security environment and the role of carrier-based naval aviation in that future context. Considerations will include expected principles of deterrence, global presence missions, protection of American economic security, as well as potential combat with possible adversaries.
The study will also define likely constraints of means in terms of future defense budgets, as well as avenue to contemplate future possible technologies not yet invented that could change the stakes of carrier-based naval aviation in all phases of global competition.
Finally, the report will provide options for the Department of the Navy in requirements for different various future aircraft (manned and unmanned, nuclear and/or conventional) carriers, to be used in future months and years in developing guidance to industry. The study will also examine how best to utilize and evolve the existing carrier fleet, including the more flexible and adaptable Ford Class, to meet the challenges of advanced long-range weapons that will extend and expand contested areas in the future.”