Large-deck, nuclear-powered aircraft are the signature expression of American military power. However, some observers fear the carriers are so big that they could be easily targeted by China in a Pacific war. The concern about survivability seems warranted. With roughly 5,000 sailors onboard operating the ship and supporting the air wing, the loss of even one carrier would be a big blow to the joint force. However, the Navy has been thinking through the survival challenge for decades, and believes U.S. carriers are actually becoming more survivable over time. In fact, they would be devilishly hard to find, fix, track, target and engage in the vastness of the Western Pacific, given the multilayered defensive architecture the Navy has fashioned and design features of the carrier itself. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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