Will a new national defense strategy mean fewer planes?



There’ve been a lot of rumors swirling around Washington that the 50-year-old national defense strategy (being able to fight two big wars at the same time) is about to get canned in favor of a new one.

Really? What happens if the senior-most military leaders decide that preparing for asymmetrical conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan is more important than fighting a second peer competitor? What are the implications of that for the Navy?

That was a question posed by Navy guru Ron O’Rourke the other day during a panel discussion of Naval aviation in Washington.

“That would amount to a change in the current force sizing construct. The question that flows from that is: What value carriers and Naval aviation have in that strategy?”

Unfortunately, O’Rourke didn’t answer his own question.

But take a look at what Marine Corps Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill on July 9.  He was talking about fighter jets and said:

“…the number of those fighters probably does not need to be sufficient to take on two simultaneous peer competitors, that we don’t see that as the likely. We see that as the extreme.”

So will the new national defense strategy brewing over at the Pentagon call for fewer fighter jets? … If so, will we really need 11 aircraft carriers? Will we still have a fighter gap?

Tell us what you think.


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  1. Do we need 11 aircraft carriers? Certainly not! One of two bombers, manned or unmanned, armed with smart bombs can now do the work of an entire airwing equipped with dumb bombs from just 20 years ago. It is absurd and wasteful to think we still need 100,000 ton, 90 plane capital ships and all their expensive escorts.

    The new warfare that America created in the past few decades should be exploited to the fullest, to ease the burden on our stretched thin fleet, and wean us off our obsession with Cold War strategies and building programs.

  2. We need whatever the President and the JCS establish. Concepts will define the hardware. Substantial political energy is now devoted to being a worldwide Friend. There seems to be no reason to equip the military to fight two widespread traditional wars using on-station forces. Show me a national leader who can provide continuing funding for the old style war hardware. Get ready for the Selenderella Treatment.

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