The aircraft carrier has served as the lynchpin of American naval power for eight decades. However, given their cost and mounting Anti-Access/Area Denial threats, many observers have questioned whether it is worthwhile to continue to build large, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In a new report, Hudson Institute’s Center for American Seapower provides a comprehensive analysis of the future of the aircraft carrier. Sharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict examines the role of Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) in high-end conflict, identifying capabilities and vulnerabilities, and offering innovative recommendations for policymakers and military strategists in terms of concepts, capabilities, and capacities. The report concludes that while many criticisms of the platform have merit, the unmatched flexibility and adaptability of the aircraft carrier will continue to make it a critical Navy contribution to joint U.S. warfighting capabilities.
On October 8th, Hudson released the report at an event in the Rayburn House Office Building. Congressman J. Randy Forbes (R-VA) gave keynote remarks on the role of the carrier in future warfighting. Bryan McGrath, deputy director of the Center for American Seapower, gave an overview of the report’s key insights, and Seth Cropsey, director of the Center for American Seapower, moderated a panel on the importance of the carrier in American military strategy. The panel featured Ronald O’Rourke, specialist in national defense at the Congressional Research Service; Robert Martinage, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments; and Timothy A. Walton, co-author of the report and principal at Alios Consulting Group.