The US Navy offers 3 options for the future of its naval force

For many years, US Navy shipbuilding planning has been chaotic to say the least, with successive plans and objectives diverging, sometimes even contradictory. The subject is also the subject of fierce opposition between Republican senators and representatives, supporters of a massive fleet, and their Democratic counterparts who wish to keep the defense budget under control. Beyond the sometimes fanciful ambitions presented in recent years, and the many standoffs that have pitted the Pentagon against American parliamentarians, particularly on the subject of the withdrawal of certain buildings, it was therefore necessary for the US Navy to present a coherent and reasonable naval planning strategy, so as to anticipate and keep under control the rise in power of the naval forces of certain countries, in particular China and Russia. And the plan presented this week by the General Staff of the US Navy responds to this need, while being part of the particular context of the balance of political forces in the United States.

In fact, the plan presented is not based on one, but on 3 hypotheses, offering American legislators the possibility of effectively arbitrating, within a given framework, the orientations of this naval strategy, as well as American ambitions in this field, and thus putting them, in a certain way, before their own responsibilities, beyond partisan and sterile postures that have handicapped these efforts for years. The first two hypotheses are based on a constant budgetary effort without a significant increase in federal investments in shipbuilding beyond the compensation for inflation, it is true an important parameter in recent years across the Atlantic. The third hypothesis is based on an increased effort in this area, with a total budget increase of $75 billion between 2025 and 2045. These plans only concern ships with a crew, the strategy aiming to equip the US Navy with 89 to 149 autonomous ships by 2045 being independent of this effort.

With the retirement of the Ticonderoga cruisers by 2027, and pending the new DDG(x) destroyers, the DDG51 Arleigh Burkes will be the US Navy's only major surface combatants for several years

The first two hypotheses offer a relatively simple trade-off, since the first relies on a greater number of large combat ships to the detriment of the overall format of the US Navy, while the second proposes a reduction in the number of these large ships to fund more mid-size ships and attack submarines. Thus, the first hypothesis proposes, for 2045, a fleet composed of 10 nuclear aircraft carriers, 75 destroyers, 44 frigates and LCS, 55 nuclear attack submarines, 47 amphibious ships, 46 logistics ships and 29 support ships. In the second hypothesis, the fleet is reorganized with 10 aircraft carriers (-), 70 destroyers (-5), 49 frigates and LCS (+5), 60 nuclear attack submarines (+5), 40 ships ships (-7), 51 logistics ships (+5) and 29 support ships, as well as a first new nuclear cruise missile submarine, for a total of 322 ships against 318 in hypothesis 1. In fact, the first hypothesis favors firepower, a destroyer carrying twice as many missiles as a frigate and a nuclear attack submarine combined, but a lower force distribution potential, while the second proposes a greater distribution capacity, but less firepower.

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