Tomorrow's navy

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#1
Capital ships have evolved; today, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers are considered the highest class of capital ships today, and only the USA possess them.
The proposed "arsenal ships" aren't quite going anywhere; they are missile-based ships while being much less powerful than nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
Floating carriers? Are they realistic at all?
We know that airborne aircraft carriers are major targets and are not quite viable YET.
Realistically speaking, the next larger ships today are Russian Kirov-class battle cruisers, the American Zumwalt destroyers, the Chinese 055 destroyers.
Why the American navy is still the largest and most powerful navy by far?
What types of warships will be developed?
May navy ever become obsolete?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,478
#2
France has a nuclear carrier and China's current carriers under construction are supposedly nuclear powered. Most likely China will need to refine its carrier designs at least once more before even coming close to the power projection of Nimitz class carriers of the USN while the avionics, planes, and other systems will probably take even longer to match current U.S. capabilities. That makes 10-20 years gap after which China might well match current U.S. capabilities which also improved with the new Gerald Ford carriers just coming into service where the newest Chinese carriers are probably sharing characteristics of the Nimitz and Ford with lesser electronics and unproven subsystems.

In the next 15 years the USN will have between 12-24 carriers (14 full-size carriers- 12 in active service, 2 refitting, and 11-20 smaller amphibious warfare ships that can carry a couple dozen helos or a single squadron of fighters) by 2035 so China would need to construct 20+ latest model carriers to match the USN which likely adds another decade to match USN after 2035. That would mean China could potentially surpass the USN by 2045 in fleet strength though it is entirely possible by that time that airborne or space-based weapons make large surface vessels totally obsolete.

I think most likely underwater vessels will become more important but the ability to dominate space is the real key as eliminating most of an enemies satellite networks will cripple them militarily while also damaging production and communications. In that situation, China could win if they can find a way to knock U.S. satellites out and launch their own satellites faster than the U.S. can return the favour. I am not sure China will be ready to win that game by 2050 but it gets quite difficult to predict past 10-15 years with any accuracy because of new technologies and cheaper methods of production which can totally change the game not to mention political and economic changes during the interim.

The possibility of rockatoons making small satellite launches nearly impossible to stop while being cheap enough to make knocking out satellites more a regular mission akin to modern air missions targeting enemy airfields and communication centers, not decisive factors alone but merely routine operations to give specific advantages for a short time until opponents can launch new satellites/re-route/position aircraft and communications.

Then there is the development of regular classes of aircraft-mounted laser weapons capable of protecting surface fleets from hypersonic missiles that can conceivably extend the usefulness of carriers but it will probably take another war to really see which technologies are the most important or in fact that it is the doctrine of full spectrum dominance that the U.S. has been pursuing for years makes the most sense as if an opponent gains advantage in a certain sector it will not be enough to overcome the combined effects of dominance in plurality of sectors.
 
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Feb 2011
6,148
#3
If we get into the game of who can knock each other's satellite out the fastest, the accumulated space junk might end up making it impossible for anybody to have any satellites. Because of the velocity of the debris, colliding with a drop of paint could crack a window. To make it worse, when debris collide with other debris it creates even more debris. The losing country could easily pull a second Project West Ford, denying space for everybody.

A generation of people who have grown completely dependent on their GPS will become utterly and hopelessly lost.
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,478
#4
If we get into the game of who can knock each other's satellite out the fastest, the accumulated space junk might end up making it impossible for anybody to have any satellites. Because of the velocity of the debris, colliding with a drop of paint could crack a window. To make it worse, when debris collide with other debris it creates even more debris. The losing country could easily pull a second Project West Ford, denying space for everybody.

A generation of people who have grown completely dependent on their GPS will become utterly and hopelessly lost.
That is why there are lots of companies attempting to find ways to efficiently clear space debris. It doesn't need to be completely clear- just certain orbits for certain periods of time with the cost of satellites decreasing rapidly there could feasibly be satellite swarms launched every few days that have a few satellites that can last weeks to months. Communications would be severely degraded but not completely eradicated. Undersea cables carry the VAST majority of data and there are backups and hidden cables much more difficult to find and destroy than satellites that everyone can see (at least currently- once debris field is large enough satellites can hide more easily but the biggest risk of satellites communications signals interception). For military purposes there are several backup communications networks which while not as accurate as the current GPS constellation are still accurate enough to provide basic guidance in the event other systems become overly degraded.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,470
Dispargum
#5
I see only two ways the US loses its naval dominance: another country develops a new technology that renders aircraft carriers obsolete, or the US loses the ability to afford its naval dominance like happened to Britain circa 1920.

Important naval technologies in the future include:
stealthy ships
longer-ranged, more intelligent anti-ship cruise missiles
sensors that can provide targeting information for these longer-ranged missiles
greater automation to reduce crew sizes
better anti-missile defenses
 
Mar 2018
520
UK
#6
No one's mentioned submarines yet? I believe in a war game recently a single sub (French or Italian) knocked out most of a US fleet on its own. In the case of a real naval-naval engagement between two top-tier powers, submarines seem likely to annihilate surface fleets with relative ease.

Of course, this is moot: if two top-tier powers have a full on engagement it will come down to nukes and nothing else will really matter. So the only way this scenario makes sense if we're talking about two non-nuclear powers having a major naval engagement with top-of-line technology, and I struggle to see how this could happen (Brazil vs Argentina maybe???).

Or, we're talking about a nulcear power projecting force on land against a non-nuclear power. The carrier strategy seems to have had great success, so rather than postulating some sci-fi space tech, I'd suggest that carriers would just adopt. Specifically, drones are being used more and more and I'd be shocked if by 2050 fighter jets still had pilots. So future carriers would probably be smaller as and more easily deployed as drones have a much smaller logistical weight than manned planes. It would therefore be easier to send drone-carriers to quickly and efficiently conduct precision strikes. If a major engagement happens, it's simply a question of sending more drone-carriers.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#7
No one's mentioned submarines yet? I believe in a war game recently a single sub (French or Italian) knocked out most of a US fleet on its own. In the case of a real naval-naval engagement between two top-tier powers, submarines seem likely to annihilate surface fleets with relative ease.

Of course, this is moot: if two top-tier powers have a full on engagement it will come down to nukes and nothing else will really matter. So the only way this scenario makes sense if we're talking about two non-nuclear powers having a major naval engagement with top-of-line technology, and I struggle to see how this could happen (Brazil vs Argentina maybe???).

Or, we're talking about a nulcear power projecting force on land against a non-nuclear power. The carrier strategy seems to have had great success, so rather than postulating some sci-fi space tech, I'd suggest that carriers would just adopt. Specifically, drones are being used more and more and I'd be shocked if by 2050 fighter jets still had pilots. So future carriers would probably be smaller as and more easily deployed as drones have a much smaller logistical weight than manned planes. It would therefore be easier to send drone-carriers to quickly and efficiently conduct precision strikes. If a major engagement happens, it's simply a question of sending more drone-carriers.
Battleships could be taken out by submarines of their time, and this illustrates the vulnerability of surface fleets, no matter how large or powerful.
Nuclear weapons are NOT applied for 70+ years and we know why.
Then, will drones be as powerful as today's bombers?
 

Ichon

Ad Honorem
Mar 2013
3,478
#8
Drones will surely have a growing place but I do not believe human pilots will be replaced by 2050. Military tech moves slowly enough already- the requisitions process and actually fielding new tech in large numbers takes even longer. I agree it will happen but looking at the current weapons systems in development 2050 is not plausible to me.

On the other hand my view could be a mistake and AI algorithms and new construction processes could let China produce a million drones a month and overwhelm whatever defences the U.S. manages to construct. I don't think that is likely but rapid changes in weapons systems due to changed in production have upended wars in the past.

If China and the U.S. go to war over Taiwan or the South China Sea I really doubt nukes will be used though I think China's view of Taiwan as integral part of its territory does make use more likely. If a nuclear weaponized state is being invaded directly then use of nukes in retaliatory defense seems likely. For conflicts short of that even in escalation, I can see many wars that stop short of using nuclear weapons.

Submarines will play larger roles for sure but currently the U.S. has the most submarines by far- probably not the most advanced but it is a small gap. There are underwater drones that could make submarines nearly obsolete as well but so much of this technology is early stage difficult to see how it will evolve especially as other technologies evolve to combat the new threats. For China to defeat the U.S. I'd guess it has to dominate over 60% of the new tech war systems. Right not it is behind in ALL of them with AI being the one field China has potential to capture the lead within the next decade and then from there as Chinese economy presumably continues to grow then China will slowly come to dominate other weapons systems. That is a very slow process and does not directely correspond to economic output. The U.S. surpassed British economy 20 years before WW1 but it took another 50 years to actually surpass British military indisputably.
 
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