The Navy is paying the price for attempting to incorporate too many new technologies at once into a new class of ship. The Ford is an example of how short-lived strategic themes such as “transformation” can create long-term problems. The Ford carrier, Zumwalt destroyer, and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter were all shaped in large part by services’ need to get them approved by the Bush administration, which was only interested in pursuing transformational new technologies at the time.
"There is a growing realization on Capitol Hill and the Department of Defense that it’s time to transition these technologies," said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush. "There are some technological challenges, but it's apparent to us that it's a case of inadequate funding. We do believe there are directed energy technologies that are ready to transform now."
Both have an enormous stake in averting open conflict between China and the United States. China has claimed most of the international waters of the South China Sea and built island fortresses around them, in defiance of international law. On Thursday, presumptive US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US could blockade those islands, just hours after Australian security expert Ross Babbage had written in these pages that the Trump administration might turn to much tougher measures on the matter. Reinforcing the rules-based order in the region which the US itself created 70 years ago has to be a top priority for Tokyo and Canberra.
A recent joint publication by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and Australia’s Strategic Forum. The report written by Ross Babbage, former senior Australian Defense Department official, concluded that the Obama government failed to “counter China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea” and that during his second term, “Beijing militarized and established effective control over” this important strategic waterway.
There are early signs Navy shipyards may be a focus for job growth. Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments who has been in talks with the Trump transition team, told Inside Defensehe anticipates increased production at existing shipyards and new construction at shipyards not presently working on U.S. military ships.
Key members of the Trump administration are shaping to confront China in the South China Sea. Last month Donald Trump tweeted: “Did China ask us if it was OK … to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don’t think so!” Trump is clearly irritated by Beijing’s behaviour and senior members of Trump’s team are also expressing deep concerns.