We have already widely reported here that the US Navy's planning for ship construction in the years to come is currently facing great uncertainties. It is in fact caught between the demands of President Trump, taken up by his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, in order to constitute for 2030 a fleet of 355 ships (compared to 293 today), the will of the General Staff of the US Navy to strengthen and rationalize its surface fleet to the detriment of numbers, and a budget which has already reached its ceiling , and which will not, in current circumstances, be able to progress in the years to come. A report from the Department of Defense published yesterday increases the differences between the American political and operational vision, by recommending the elimination of 2 of the 11 aircraft carriers of the US Navy, and the creation of a large fleet of light robotic or reduced crew in order to cope with the growing power of the Chinese Navy.
This report only gives shape to the strategy recommended by Mark Esper since his arrival as Secretary of Defense, namely to increase the volume of the US Navy with small units and robotic units, so as to increase , according to him, the responsiveness of the fleet and its distribution on the seas of the globe. For this, the DoD report recommends not only the withdrawal of 2 aircraft carriers, but also the maintenance of the number of heavy surface ships, namely cruisers and destroyers, at more than 80 units, and the increase in the number of small combat units of 55 planned (35 LCS and 20 FFG/X) to 70, very probably adding 15 FFG/X frigates, the LCS having a very limited operational interest in the event of conflict. To achieve the presidential objectives of 355 ships, the report finally recommends the creation of a fleet of light automated or reduced-crew ships, numbering 70 units. Like drones like the Predator or the Reaper, these automated naval units have the advantage of having a very long autonomy at sea, and a logistical and human footprint, therefore very low budgetary, therefore meeting the constraints that the US Navy faces today, while increasing the number of ships to “hold the line” against the Chinese Navy , which will reach 500 units within a few years.
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