One way to gauge China’s longer term intentions is to assess what Chinese leaders are saying today. President Xi Jinping has articulated a vision for China over the next few decades. This vision has been termed the “Chinese Dream” or the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” These slogans capture goals, milestones, and timelines.
The implementation of the distributed fleet will require regaining the advantage in the electromagnetic spectrum. Otherwise, unmanned systems and dispersed assets may be more of a liability than benefit. The U.S. military does not have a great track record in developing distributed systems. The Army’s Distributed Common Ground System has long been criticized as a very expensive yet ineffective system. In 2015, a report released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments argued that the Navy did not have the operational guidance to use its newest electromagnetic technologies to the greatest effect.
In fact, long-range anti-ship missiles, such as the DF-21D, have engendered some measure of debate about the future of carriers; a recent think-tank, Navy study (Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment) recently found that smaller, faster and more agile carriers may need to be engineered for the future in response to guided missiles able to travel as far as 900 nautical miles.
The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, has released its new Fleet Architecture Study, which includes recommendations for what kinds of ships should make up the future U.S. Navy fleet, and how it should be organized.
Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and a former Navy submariner, said the amount of acoustic coating missing on the Mississippi "could create enough flow noise to be a sound problem at even relatively slow speeds. Also, there is enough tile missing that it could reduce the coating's ability to absorb sonar energy and make the submarine easier to find with active sonar." Clark said it isn't clear from the photo if the tiles came off due to debonding, meaning a loss of adhesion, "or if they got stripped off from something rubbing against the submarine. Nets and cables adrift at sea can do this."
The $54 billion increase would not be enough for the Navy to increase ship construction all at once, particularly in light of the fact that the Navy and other military services are struggling with readiness issues, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Addressing readiness is a top priority of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, so it’s likely that a good portion of any increase in funding for the Navy would go toward that, Clark said. Clark justified the need for 18 more attack submarines, describing how the U.S. faces a very different set of security challenges today given improved military capabilities by Russia and China. There’s a big demand for the intelligence gathering and coordination of special operations forces where the U.S. doesn’t want to have a visible presence, he said. That drives the number of submarines up, Clark said, explaining that four and a half submarines are needed to maintain one submarine deployed overseas when factoring in maintenance, training and the distance that these nuclear-powered submarines travel.