21 February 2018
The obituary for the aircraft carrier has been written over and over again, but stubbornly it refuses to die. Twenty years ago, for example, during the height of the “revolution in military affairs” craze, the aircraft carrier was written off as a dinosaur. In a projected future where warfare was all about being small, stealthy, and fast, an 80,000-ton carrier was seen as too big and too cumbersome, while its function could be replaced by missiles and precision-guided weapons. Moreover, aircraft carriers were considered to be just “cruise missile magnets” — modern-day cannon fodder in the new 21st-century battlespace.
And yet more and more countries — particularly in Asia — are discovering the potential value of aircraft carriers. China and India are currently the only Asian countries operating large fixed-wing carriers, but they may soon be joined by new players, particularly Japan and South Korea, and perhaps even others.
… Richard A. Bitzinger is Senior Fellow and Coordinator of the Military Transformations Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He is formerly with the RAND Corp. and the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. An earlier version of this Commentary appeared in Asia Times.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 26/02/2018