The weapons system described in Chapter 5 that is most critical to the safety and security of the United States are the Nimitz and Gerald Ford class aircraft carrier. “Inarguably, as an instrument of American diplomacy, power projection, and global security, the centerpiece of both today’s and the future naval force is the aircraft carrier” (United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, 2016). The aircraft carriers of the United States Navy provide invaluable and unsurpassed capabilities that most other countries are unable to provide and an important tool in the execution and enforcement of U.S. policy and diplomacy. With the ability to carry and deploy sixty or more fixed wing, rotary, and turbo propeller aircraft to provide air superiority and dominance, forward presence, and air, land, and sea first strike capabilities the aircraft carrier’s importance is inarguable.
With a staggering cost of $12.8 billion, the Nimitz class carrier is by far an expensive investment and one that has prevented the production of more than the current ten carrier fleet that the United States Navy maintains but the benefits to maintaining and having them out weigh the cost of producing them. Additionally, the new Ford class brings much more carrier capabilities to the fleet such as, “33 percent increase in the rate at which we launch and recover aircraft; a propulsion plant three times the electrical generating capacity, and 25 percent more energy than Nimitz” but most “importantly a $4 billion reduction per ship in total ownership cost over the ship’s 50-year service life.” (United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, 2016).
The employment of U.S. aircraft carriers as a tool to enforce U.S. policy poses little to no ethical debate due to the fact that although they can be deployed at a moment’s notice to far flung hotspots around the globe, they also are not “fire and forget” assets in that they can also be immediately recalled. Since they are maintained and operated by over 5,000 sailors the use of aircraft carriers allow for U.S. forward presence but still allow for calculated and measured responses to delicate situations due to the risk of U.S. military personnel being in harms way. Should the need arise that we should deploy and use the strike capabilities that carriers provide, the crews of those ships and aircraft are fully trained and prepared to execute their given mission to the best of their abilities.
United States. Congress. House. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Seapower and Projections Forces. 2016. Aircraft carrier: presence and surge limitations and expanding power projection options: joint hearing before the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces meeting jointly with Subcommittee on Readiness of the Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourteenth Congress, first session, hearing held November 3, 2015. Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-114hhrg97498/pdf/CHRG-114hhrg97498.pdf#
Stiehm, J. H. (2012). The U.S. Military A basic introduction. Doi: 10.4324/9780203128008