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American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century

American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century

Benjamin S. Lambeth
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 138
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  • Book Info
    American Carrier Air Power at the Dawn of a New Century
    Book Description:

    In the Afghanistan war, U.S. carrier-based fighters substituted almost entirely for land-based theater air forces. The Navy's carriers again played a key role in conducting around-the-clock operations against Saddam Hussein's forces in Iraq. American carrier air power is now able to conduct coordinated deep-strike missions well beyond coastal reaches. The Navy's performance over Afghanistan and Iraq showed how the nation's carrier force can provide around-the-clock target coverage, consistently accurate target attack, and multiple successful target attacks per sortie.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4096-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Summary
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Acronyms
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Throughout most of the cold-war years after American combat involvement in Vietnam ended in 1973, the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers figured most prominently in an offensive sea-control strategy that was directed mainly against Soviet naval forces, including long-range and highly capable shore-based naval air forces, for potential open-ocean (or “blue-water”) engagements around the world in case of major war. For lesser contingencies, the principal intended use of the Navy’s carrier battle groups was in providing forward “presence” to symbolize American military power and global commitment. When it came to actual force employment, however, U.S. carrier-based aviation was typically used only...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Carrier Air over Afghanistan
    (pp. 9-38)

    The attacks planned and executed against the United States by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization on September 11, 2001, confronted the Navy, like all the other armed services, with a no-notice call to arms. Earlier throughout the years that followed the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Navy’s carrier battle groups had taken part in numerous contingency-response operations that served to further hone the edge of the nation’s carrier air forces. For the most part, however, those operations involved fairly short distances to target and few significant stresses on carrier aviation. In sharp contrast, the looming demand...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Operation Iraqi Freedom
    (pp. 39-58)

    If Operation Enduring Freedom had been tailor-made for deep-attack carrier air operations, the three-week period of major combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom that ensued a year later against Saddam Hussein was no less so, at least with respect to missions launched into Iraq from operating areas in the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike the case of Operation Desert Storm more than a decade before, both Saudi Arabia and Turkey refused to allow the United States and its coalition partners the use of their bases for conducting offensive operations. Their refusal created an access problem at the eleventh hour that the nation’s carrier...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR A New Carrier Operating Concept
    (pp. 59-68)

    Before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Navy’s worldwide “presence” posture had been enabled and supported by a highly routinized and predictable sequence of maintenance, training, and unit and ship certification aimed at meeting scheduled deployment dates that were all but set in stone. The sudden demands levied on the Navy by the events of September 11, however, changed that familiar pattern of operations irretrievably. Recognizing that the emergent demands of an open-ended global war on terror meant a need for a more responsive naval force able to sustain a higher level of mission readiness, the CNO, Admiral...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE The Next-Generation Carrier
    (pp. 69-78)

    The Navy’s large-deck, nuclear-poweredNimitz-class aircraft carriers have provided the nation with effective force-projection service for more than 30 years. The baseline design for those carriers was completed during the 1960s, with a view toward replacing the Navy’s five aging oil-firedForrestal-class carriers on a one-for-one basis. Since then, the U.S. carrier force has not even once undergone an aggressive research and development (R&D) effort to fold cutting-edge technology into the design of a follow-on ship. Instead, from USSDwight D. Eisenhower(CVN-69) onward, all of the Navy’s aircraft carriers have been “modified repeats,” if not carbon-copy repeats, of previous...

  13. CHAPTER SIX The Changing Face of American Carrier Air Power
    (pp. 79-98)

    Among the many substantial gains registered in the combat leverage of American carrier air power over the past decade have been its proven ability to surge a large number of carrier strike groups (as many as eight out of 12 carriers and ten air wings) and to keep them on station for the duration of a major campaign; to generate and sustain as many sorties as might be needed to meet a CFACC’s daily target-coverage requirements; to service multiple aim-points with consistently high accuracy on each combat sortie around the clock irrespective of weather; and—with the help of nonorganic...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Conclusions
    (pp. 99-104)

    Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom showed that the Navy’s aircraft carriers no longer operate as individual and autonomous air-wing platforms but rather as a surged and massed force capable of generating and sustaining however many consistently effective sorties over time that a CFACC might need to meet his assigned campaign goals. This performance was a direct outgrowth of the Navy’s having corrected many of its operational, doctrinal, and force capability deficiencies that were first spotlighted during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Unlike the relatively short sorties flown during the punitive strikes that had been launched earlier against Lebanon in...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 105-113)