4 Things You Need to Know:
1) It is important to note that the U.S. Navy does not operate any strictly air superiority fighters. All of their fighters are multirole strike-fighters based on the F-18 airframe. The utilize FA-18C/D Hornet and FA-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft in this role. The ECM aircraft that is phasing out the EA-6 Prowler is the EA-18G Growler, also on the same airframe.
This provides a host of advantages over operating a large inventory of different aircraft. Standardization makes maintenance, repair and inventory of spare parts much simpler. On the other hand, although the FA-18 platform is proven in combat as far as the close air support and attack roles are concerned, it has not been proven in air combat against other air superiority fighters, definitely not those of a nation with a capable air force. The US Navy has effectively put “all of their eggs in one basket” as the saying goes.
2) The United States operates the largest and most advanced aircraft carriers in the world, and maintains a force of 11 of them. They require a vast amount of money to build, equip and maintain. As potential adversaries have decided not to field similar aircraft carriers, but have opted for smaller aircraft carriers or multi-role platforms combined with a large and capable anti-ship cruise missile and ballistic missile capability, the question remains to be answered, “Who has made the right strategic decision?” Is the conventional aircraft carrier still relevant in a time of advanced missiles? When advanced guided missile technology is coupled with advanced electronic warfare technology, a huge threat becomes readily apparent to large aircraft carriers.
3) The U.S. Navy operates the largest force, of the most powerful surface warfare vessels in the world. The 22 Ticonderoga Class and 62 Arleigh Burke Class vessels represent the most powerful force of surface combatants in the world. Both Russia and China are building and fielding powerful and capable surface warfare vessels on par with their US counterparts; however, they do not yet have the numbers. The Ticonderoga Class were first fielded in 1983, and no replacement is planned, while China has planned the Type 055 DDG/CG. These new Chinese PLAN vessels will help to balance global naval power moving into the next decade.
4) The U.S. DoD and DoN have wasted great amounts of money on aircraft and surface vessels that are heavy on modern technologies and light on proven, practical engineering from a warfighting perspective. As the military industrial complex/federal bureaucracy aims to incur as much cost as possible in the form of profits for the defense industry, not to provide for an economical and efficient defense capability for the nation, the US Navy suffers accordingly. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the DDG-1000 Zumwalt, and Littoral Combat Ships (of two classes) are examples of this.
Total Personnel: 327,318 active duty officers and enlisted. 108,457 in Ready Reserve status (The United States Marine Corps personnel are not included in this number.)
Annual Budget: $161 billion (USD) proposed budget for 2016. An increase of 1% over 2015 budget.
Number of Fleets: 6 active fleets. (10th Fleet does not operate as a physical fleet)
- Third Fleet (East and North Pacific)
- Fourth Fleet (Caribbean, Central and South America)
- Fifth Fleet (Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, Western Indian Ocean)
- Sixth Fleet (North and South Atlantic and the Mediterranean)
- Seventh Fleet (Western Pacific, East and Southeast Asia and Oceania)
- Tenth Fleet (Cyber Warfare, Information Dominance)
Major Surface Combatants:
Conventional Aircraft Carriers (CV): 1 in reserve. (CVN-65 to be decommissioned in 2016)
Nuclear Aircraft Carriers (CVN): 10 (a total of 11 when the CVN-68 enters service in 2016)
Guided Missile Cruisers (CG): 22
Guided Missile Destroyers (DDG): 62
Amphibious Warfare Assault Ship (LHA): 1
Amphibious Assault Ships (LHD): 8
Amphibious Transport Docks (LPD): 9
Dock Landing Ships (LSD): 12
Littoral Combat Ships (LCS): 6
Patrol Boats (PB): 13
Mine Countermeasures Ships (MCS): 11
Command and Support Vessels:
Dry-Cargo Ammunition Ships (T-AKE): 12
Oilers (T-AO): 15
Fast Combat Support Ships (T-AOE): 2
Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) (AFSB): 1
Submarine Tenders (AS): 2
Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV): 5
Command Ships (LCC): 2
Mobile Landing Platforms (MLP): 3
Surveillance Ships (T-AGOS): 5
T-AKEs for Maritime Prepositioning (T-AKE MPS): 2
Salvage Ships (T-ARS): 4
Fleet Ocean Tugs (T-ATF): 4
High Speed Transport Ships (HST): 1
Nuclear Attack Submarines (SSN): 54
Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN): 14
Nuclear Guided Missile Submarines (SSGN): 4
Total Battle Force Ships: 285
In FY 2016 14 battle force ships will be delivered: one Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN), two Nuclear Attack Submarines (SSN), five Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), two Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV), one Amphibious Transport Dock (LPD), two Destroyers (DDG) and one Zumwalt Class Destroyer (DDG 1000). Three Nuclear Attack Submarines (SSN) will be retired.
Active Air Wings
Navy Carrier Air Wings 10
Marine Air Wings 3
Patrol Wings 3
Helicopter Maritime Strike Wings 2
Helicopter Combat Support Wings 2
Total Aviation Assets:
ANTI SUB: 3
IN FLIGHT REFUELING: 78
ROTARY WING: 1,375
EXECUTIVE ROTARY WING: 19
STRIKE FIGHTER: 1,171
TRAINING JET: 285
TRAINING PROP: 290
TRAINING UTILITY: 25
BAMS-D (RQ-4A UAV): 4
UAS (UAV) Combat support: 105
UAS (UAV) Patrol: 4
UAS (UAV) ROTARY WING: 41
Total: 4,056 aircraft of all types.
South Front: Analysis & Intelligence (SF) is a public analytical project maintained by an independent team of experts from four corners of the earth. SF focuses on international relations and crises working through a number of media platforms. They provide military operations analysis and other important data where crisis points affect tensions between countries and nations. They dig out truth barely covered by states concerned and their mainstream media. SF does not receive any funding from corporations or governments. They are supported by reader donations.
*All posts on behalf of South Front are made by Gordon Duff