The next great naval innovation is here, represented by the next generation of aircraft carriers now entering the fleet - the Ford-class. The Ford-class carriers are larger, more efficient, and more powerful. The technology advancements implemented on these new carriers translates not only into greater capability, but also significant cost savings over the 50+ years of each carrier’s service life.
President Donald Trump’s energy dominance narrative -- fueled by the prolific production of oil and gas from America’s Shale Gale -- recently got a boost from the United States Navy. The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division filed a patent for a compact fusion reactor (CFR) last month, one that claims to improve upon the shortcomings of the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks CFR that uses similar “plasma confinement” technology.
The Navy is planning to launch a massive, 50-ton undersea drone to expand mission scope, increase attack options, integrate large high-tech sensors, further safeguard manned combat crews and possibly fire torpedoes -- all while waging war under the ocean surface.
Cyberattacks from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are increasingly sophisticated and, until recently, were done with little concern for the consequences, the top Pentagon cyber leaders told a congressional committee on Wednesday. Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of U.S. Cyber Command, laid out the escalating threats, following a Navy review released this week that described significant breaches of naval systems and concluded that the service is losing the cyber war.
“I would say that railgun is kind of the case study that would say ‘This is how innovation maybe shouldn‘t happen,‘” the chief of naval operations, Adm. John Richardson, the Atlantic Council. “It‘s been around, I think, for about 15 years, maybe 20. So ‘rapid’ doesn‘t come to mind when you’re talking about timeframes like that.”
The Navy is currently analyzing air frames, targeting systems, AI-enabled sensors, new weapons and engine technologies to engineer a new 6th-Generation fighter to fly alongside the F-35 and ultimately replace the F/A-18. The Navy program, called Next-Generation Air Dominance, has moved beyond a purely conceptual phase and begun exploration of prototype systems and airframes as it pursues a new, carrier-launched 6th-Gen fighter to emerge in 2030 and beyond, service officials explained.
The mockup of China’s CH-7 combat drone unveiled at Zhuhai Airshow this week looks a lot like one the U.S. Navy was developing -- until it dropped the project, allowing China to position itself to beat the U.S. and other allies in fielding a long-range, high-altitude combat drone. That’s despite the fact that--in the words of one expert—the United States had a “ten-year head start.”
The U.S. Navy needs a new warship to replace its aging force of cruisers, and it wants to start buying them in five years. Larger than a destroyer but smaller than a battleship, the ship will be stacked with sensors, weapons, and unmanned vehicles. The Navy believes the new ship--which will probably cost more than $2 billion each--is needed to retain the ability to protect America’s aircraft carriers and allies from attack.
The New York Times offered a breathless take on China’s Navy, noting that its two-carrier fleet is now larger than the United States’ and poised to project power globally. This naval prowess, plus a new generation of accurate land-based anti-ship missiles, create a robust anti-access/area denial capability, which, the Times suggests, means China may “prevail” in a fight with the United States off its coast.
The capabilities of China's current carrier force are severely limited by several serious weaknesses, making it vastly inferior to the US Navy, but the one it has in the works is where the world could start to see the Chinese navy closing the gap with its primary competitor. China only has one aircraft carrier -- the Type 001 Liaoning -- in service.