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3 Studies Say Navy Needs to Be Bigger. But Hey, Are We Focusing Too Much on China?

Three recent studies of the future of the U.S. Navy arrive at remarkably similar conclusions. The three, commissioned by Congress, were issued by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis (CSBA), MITRE Corporation, and the Navy itself. The range of perspectives represented by these publishers highlights the remarkable extent to which their findings converge, not to mention the provocative similarities in their underlying assumptions. All three studies advocate for significant increases to the Navy’s battle force fleet, which currently sits at 274 ships. The Navy’s own Future Force Assessment recommends growing to 355, CSBA comes in with a modest bump to 340 hulls, and MITRE shoots for the biggest goal of building up to 414 ships. Within that range are more nuanced differences regarding types, classes, and capabilities. Starring in any lineup is the carrier fleet, which CSBA and the Navy propose bumping up to 12. That target is already within range, as the USS Gerald R. Ford will bring the total number of operational flattops to 11 by 2019 and the second ship of its class is already planned for construction. MITRE, on the other hand, believes the Navy ought to have another two Ford-class carriers for a total of 14.

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