April 30, 2022
Get Real or Get Outpaced: Reality and the Future of U.S. Navy
American domination in a period of unipolarity is coming to an end—if it hasn’t already. Advantages granted by leaps in technology now last weeks or months, not years as they once did during the Cold War and post-Cold War eras. Flat and shrinking budgets, coupled with poor program concepts hedging on unproven or developing technology, management, and execution, have left the Navy with bloated contracts and ineffective platforms. The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) has never lived up to its billing, and maintenance costs far outpace its usefulness leading the Navy to retire relatively new hulls decades earlier than planned. The Zumwalt-class destroyer has grappled with program cuts to build count and immature technologies, which have left it without a full complement of weapon systems and an undefined role. The ballooning production and maintenance costs, along with the emergence of hypersonic weapons, threatened to render the Gerald R. Ford-class of supercarriers obsolete or, at the very least, less effective.