There is a school of thought in academic circles that aircraft carriers may soon become obsolete due to the nature of the threat posed by China. The long-range reconnaissance systems and missiles being developed by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are believed to be accurate and destructive enough to disable an aircraft carrier, and taking out even one of them would have a devastating effect on the U.S. defense posture in the Pacific theater. But where this argument breaks down is when the available alternatives are considered. What other option does the Navy have than what an aircraft carrier essentially is, a floating, mobile air base? Because the Navy is not dependent on land bases, it is not vulnerable to attack the same way the Air Force would be. Along with allowing the Navy not to be tied to land bases, aircraft carriers play a role that a fleet of smaller ships could never fulfill, at least for the foreseeable future. Here are a few reasons that their role is so indispensable.
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