The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:
11 March 2019 -- The decision to retire Truman prematurely likely represents the first skirmish in an internal Pentagon clash concerning the future warfighting relevance of aircraft carriers. The debate pits those who believe aircraft carriers are obsolete against those who are confident that new tactics, weapons, and changes to the carrier air wing can keep the aircraft carrier the critical component of the joint force for the foreseeable future.
Foreign Policy reports that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and key members of his staff believe the days of the U.S. aircraft carrier are largely over in the face of increasingly advanced threats from China and Russia. Supposedly, the Navy had to cancel the Truman refueling to get Shanahan’s approval of its recently announced two-carrier block buy.
It may seem illogical to retire one aircraft carrier early while buying two new carriers. However, cutting or delaying a new Ford-class carrier would have far greater impacts on the industrial base and production costs than cancelling a refueling overhaul. If not refueled, the Navy’s only option would be to retire Truman with more than 20 years left in her planned life.
John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics
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