The combat utility of the U.S. fleet aircraft carrier in the post-war period

Ben Wan Beng Ho

Abstract


The fleet aircraft carrier possesses a number of unique advantages such as territorial independence and mobility that make it the United States National Command Authorities’ platform of choice to deal with a crisis or war. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the successful and unencumbered application of American carrier airpower in the post-war period has been significantly aided by the benign environments where the flat-tops have operated. In the modern combat environment, critics contend that anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities would render the vessel obsolete. Uncertainty clouds this issue as American carriers have yet to be subjected to A2/AD threats. Nevertheless, it is possible to draw two conclusions based on related empirical evidence. They are namely, 1) the submarine poses a credible challenge to American flat-tops, provided the sub is able to find and track them; 2) the anti-ship missile constitutes less of a “mission-kill” threat compared to the torpedo.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.