The Navy’s budget guidance says it can’t afford to modernize all of its combat systems, and the Chief of Naval Operations says at current funding levels, the fleet can’t grow much beyond 300 warships. Clearly, the service will have to abandon some of its ambitions for the future. The first item to go is force structure–fleet size will be more or less static–and the last item to be debited will be readiness. That means modernization is the main trade space. Within the shipbuilding accounts nuclear deterrence and undersea warfare look safe. Aircraft carriers, being built at the rate of one every five years, aren’t going to be cut. But amphibious warships look more and more like a billpayer, and proposals for a next-generation destroyer dubbed DDG(X) are almost sure to be revisited. The Navy hasn’t made a cogent case for why it can’t just modify the existing Burke-class destroyer rather than starting over. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
Find Archived Articles: