Loren is right to worry about the UCAS delay (posted August 13). But there’s a bigger issue. Remarkably, the Navy has so far failed to buy its fliers stealth fighter-attack aircraft (around since the early 1980s) or big unmanned planes (nearing 10 years of operational use.)
Despite the fact that high-end conflict is out of fashion at the Pentagon, the Navy is right to look forward in its aviation investments. Take away carriers – or fail to put the right planes on their decks – and America loses a capability it won’t get back. Most strategists believe aircraft carriers have a big role to play in keeping the status quo in the Pacific. The presence of carriers there is a powerful deterrent as long as the warplanes they carry can survive and fight. The Navy has a shortfall in its strike fighters. It needs complete the Super Hornet buy (deployed wings report great maintenance record on this new jet at war in Afghanistan) and stay on track with F-35. The Navy version of the joint strike fighter has the longest range of the three cousin variants and will give the Navy options at all levels of conflict.
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