The US Navy is still struggling to define solid planning to counter China

Defense industrial planning is a most delicate exercise, which must reconcile the anticipation of operational needs and the replacement of obsolete equipment, the means of industrial production available, and budgetary questions. Very often there is also a strong constraint in terms of industrial activity and the economic and social benefits of the investment, making the exercise even more difficult. But when this must intervene after two decades of underinvestment, credit-sucking programs without concrete operational application, and faced with a potential adversary who, for his part, shows remarkable mastery and anticipation just as effective in the field, exercise turns into a nightmare, and looks like a problem without any good solution. This is what the US Navy faces today, and the reason why she struggles so much to conceive a solid and coherent industrial planning for the next two decades.

In fact, the Chief of American Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Gilday, just notified Congress that the presentation of this new plan would not take place in 2022, as planned, but not before 2023, even while, within the framework of the hearings concerning the 2022 budget of the Pentagon, both Senators and US Representatives insisted heavily on the need to have as quickly as possible a framework document for the renewal of resources and the rise of the US Navy in the face of the challenge posed by China and its unparalleled naval production, which launches 3 times more each year of cruisers, destroyers and frigates than the United States. And if the Pentagon and the US Navy fail to produce such a plan, and regularly postpone its presentation, it is above all because, in the context and with the current parameters, there is no satisfactory solution to the problem.

The robotic ships Sea Hunter and Seahawk are intensively tested by the US Navy to assess the real operational potential and reliability at sea of ​​these technologies.

In fact, over the next 15 years, the US Navy will simultaneously have to replace its fleet of Ohio-class nuclear submarines with very expensive Columbia-class ships at $ 15 billion per sub. sailor, its nuclear aircraft carriers by the equally expensive Ford-class aircraft carriers at $ 12 billion each, its Ticonderoga-class cruisers and his first destroyers Arleigh Burke by Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyers at more than $ 2,5 billion, or its Iwo Jima-class LHDs by America-class LHAs, also at $ 2,5 billion. In the end, the simple replacement of ships due to leave active service in the next 15 years will cost the US Navy more than $ 350 billion, or almost all of its naval construction budget. Add to this the ongoing replacement of the Los Angeles class SNAs by the $ 3,5 billion Virginia ships at the rate of 3 ships per year, and the construction of 2 Constellation class frigates, for a total of $ 12 billion per year. year, and the US Navy no longer has any leeway in its ability to build or expand its fleet over the next 15 years. At the same time, Beijing will have produced as many aircraft carriers, submarines and assault ships as Washington, but will have launched 120 to 140 new generation cruisers, frigates and destroyers, compared to only 50 to 60 for the United States. , in the best case.

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