The United States has more aircraft carriers than any other country - depending on how you define “aircraft carrier,” it’s 10 times as many.
Russia, a major naval power with large submarine corps and many other surface ships, has one carrier. It's from the Soviet era, diesel powered and rarely at sea for more than six months at a time before heading back for a refit that typically takes longer than the deployment.
China’s first aircraft carrier recently became operational. It’s a Soviet model that’s been refurbished. A second carrier is being refurbished now. The other nations that can sent flattops to sea are India, Italy and France. The United Kingdom currently can’t launch fighters from its lone carrier because they retired their Harrier jump jets in 2010 to save money.
The United States, on the other hand, currently has 10 super carriers with air wings that are never smaller than 60 planes. It is authorized by Congress to keep 11 in service, but a new class of carriers has been slow to get out of dry dock. But the super carriers are only half of the force. There are 10 more ships capable of deploying V/STOL aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, Harriers and also helicopters. Many nations would call those aircraft carriers, too.
So, clearly, the U.S. government believes these ships are key to the nation’s overall military strategy. They help give the United States an unparalleled ability to project force in short order nearly anywhere in the world.
But what if these many-multibillion dollar plans can be upset by a few million dollars in missiles? It could make the aircraft carrier an endangered species.
The views expressed in this article are not those of Reuters News.