‘This will change everything.’ The Pentagon is testing new weapons for aircraft carriers

Andrey Kots

The Americans are strengthening “floating airfields” – during the US Navy’s Large Scale Exercise, the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson took on board an experimental composition of aircraft for the first time. The experience was recognized as successful. In the future, air groups will be reorganized on other ships. On the new naval tactics of the Pentagon – in the material RIA Novosti.

New and old fighters

According to the latest report from the Internat-ional Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) TheMilitary Balance, Nimitz-class pennants each carry 55 F / A-18 Super Hornet fighter-bombers, five EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft, four early warning aircraft (DLRO) E-2C / D Hawkeye and six H-60 Sea Hawk search and rescue helicopters.

For many years, such a composition was considered the standard and allowed aircraft carrier strike groups to solve a wide range of tasks – from fighting enemy ships and aircraft at sea to supporting the landing on the coast.

The main striking force of the “floating airfields” is the F / A-18 “Super Hornet” decks. Each of the more than a thousand attack aircraft in the fleet takes on board eight tons of combat load and operates within a radius of 700 kilometers. Today these aircraft are no longer produced – they have been replaced by more modern ones.

Rear Admiral Dan Martin, who commanded the experimental AUG, told reporters that Carl Vinson is the first aircraft carrier to receive the fifth-generation F-35C carrier-based fighters. In the shipborne 147th squadron (VFA-147) “Argonauts” there are ten of them so far. The other three fighter units have the familiar F / A-18s.

F-35C fighters reached the so-called Initial Opera-tional Capability relatively recently – in February 2019. After “Karl Vinson” they will be received by “Abr-aham Lincoln” and “Geo-rge Washington”. The key differences between the “thirty-fifths” from the veterans of the F/A-18 are stealth for radars, increased reconnaissance characteristics and the ability to exch-ange information in real time.

Cut off excess

Another important innovation is that there are now more support aircraft on board. In particular, Karl Vinson took seven EA-18G Growler electronic warfare machines to sea instead of five, as well as five DLRO E-2C / D Hawkeye instead of four. According to Ame-rican analysts, this will significantly expand the combat radius of the air group and increase its resistance to air defense systems.

“The EA-18G Growler aircraft are the primary means of nonkinetic airborne electronic attacks for the entire group,” Captain Tommy Locke, head of the Fallon Naval Air Force Base, where the revamped wing was being coordinated, told reporters. over the battlefield, the higher our chances of success. And even just two additional “Growlers” give the aircraft carrier completely different strike capabilities. “

Finally, the latest innovation of the “air group of the future” is the CMV-22B tiltrotor. Two of these vehicles will deliver personnel, supplies and spare parts to the ship. Previously, this was done by the outdated deck C-2A Greyhound. The advantage of the CMV-22 B is that you can install the same engine as on the F-35C fighters.

In order to place the updated air wing on an aircraft carrier, everything that does not concern combat s-ervice was removed from t-he ship. In particular, sports equipment from the gym and systems for training crews.

During the test campaign, “Karl Vinson” first operated as part of a reinforced AUG. The aircraft carrier was escorted by six Arleigh Burke missile destroyers and the Ticonderoga cruiser, capable of launching several hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles on the enemy and providing reliable anti-aircraft and anti-submarine defense of the flagship.

Below the waterline

According to Tommy Lock, additional electronic warfare planes in combination with the “stealth” F-35 will allow strikes against the enemy with virtually impunity. According to the new concept, it is assumed that at first the cruisers and destroyers of the order will hit previously reconnoitered strategic objects and command posts with a massive raid of cruise missiles. Then F-35C fighters, as well as electronic warfare aircraft, neutralize the air defense system. In the third wave, the Hornets are going to break through, crushing everything that has survived with bombs and missiles, and clearing a foothold for the Marine Corps landing.

The interval between three attacks is ten to twenty minutes. Aviation actions are coordinated by AWACS aircraft and reconnaissance drones. The Pentagon strategists thus expect to completely defeat the enemy. However, in reality, obviously, things will not go so smoothly.

“F-35C fighters are gre-atly overvalued,” Sergei S-udakov, a corresponding m-ember of the Academy of Military Sciences, said in an interview with RIA Nov-osti. corresponds to the ca-pabilities of the “eighte-enth.” In addition, it has been proven that the F-35s are not capable of effectively fighting in the air without the cover of their “older brothers” – the F-22 fighters, which have not yet be-en released in a naval configuration. “

The expert emphasized that the US carrier-based aviation is no longer as reliable and formidable weap-on as it used to be. So, he recalled, American large ships are seriously vulnerable to Russian hypersonic weapons. One missile hitting below the waterline is enough for the aircraft carrier to roll, after which the aircraft will not be able to land and take off from it. At the same time, anti-ship mi-ssiles are hundreds of times cheaper than the “floating airfield” and the equipment deployed on it.

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