The U.S. Navy has bold plans for increasing the number of warships in its surface fleet over the next 30 years. Unfortunately, a shift in emphasis from large combatants to small ones will likely decrease the fleet’s firepower even though the number of warships is increasing. In fact, if the Navy has its way with retirement of aged cruisers, it could eliminate more missile firing capability in 2022 alone than exists in the entire British fleet. And that isn’t the half of it: the Navy also wants to cease deliveries of the only large combatant it currently has in production, the DDG-51 destroyer, after 2028. Each DDG-51 hosts 96 VLS cells capable of launching a diverse assortment of offensive and defensive missiles. Giving up so much firepower while China is surging production of its own warships seems dangerous. Whatever the disposition of the old cruisers ends up being, the U.S. Navy should keep producing DDG-51s until it is ready to start taking delivery of something better. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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