Title: Is the "Day of the Aircraft Carrier" Over?

Subject: Historical documentation of CV employment and rational for their continuing requirement in the future.

Author(s): James Paulsen; Albert L. St. Clair (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: Joint Vision 2010 raises the question of aircraft carrier viability in the 21st Century. The aircraft carrier has often come under scrutiny by other services and civilian leadership, usually in times of fiscal belt-tightening. Joint Vision 2010 -Concept for Future Joint Operations provides the thesis for this project and the question is characteristic of its ideology.

I will address this ongoing debate by demonstrating how the aircraft carrier has historically survived repeated political attack. This paper will document some of these political events including historical aircraft carrier responses to global crises, examine previously unsuccessful attempts at replacing aircraft carriers with different weapon systems and explore aircraft carrier survivability and adaptability. Further, these arguments will recall the coincidental failures or shortcomings of different forms of military applications to these historical political situations.

Some theorists replied to this prospect with the claim of "virtual presence" through the "global reach" of air assets based within the United States. I believe that this virtual presence theory is in reality "actual absence" and I have chosen to pursue a historical approach to disprove the concept.

My discussion of responses to global crises will show how aircraft carriers have been used to quell minor crises simply through their presence as well as how they have been employed in wartime as the primary supplier of air power to theater commanders. The aircraft carrier has answered the nation's call an average of four times a year in response to contingency and limited war operations since World War II; there is no evidence to suspect that this trend will decrease in the foreseeable future.

Last updated 1999 Jan 14