There has been a lot of speculation lately about how China’s heavy investment in new military capabilities might be compromising the survivability of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Western Pacific. In reality, though, the carriers are less vulnerable today than at any time since Communists came to power in Beijing. Which leads to a surprising insight: carriers may actually be the most cost-effective tool for deterring and/or defeating Chinese aggression. The total carrying cost of the Navy’s 11 carriers and their strike groups is less than 5% of the defense budget; they are more likely to survive than land-based forces in the region; they are better suited to sea control than other combat systems; they cost less than other means to destroy targets; and they can sustain high rates of fire, destroying hundreds of targets daily, for weeks at a time. I have written a commentary for Forbes on the carrier’s unique value in the Western Pacific here.
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