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Big Missiles and Big Decks: The Viability of Aircraft Carriers in an A2/AD World

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This thesis analyzes the implications of modern anti-accessarea denial A2AD capabilities on the use of aircraft carriers in executing U.S. maritime strategy. The objective is to determine if there are historical lessons from previous U.S. experiences with A2AD capabilities that bear relevance on the current debate. Additionally, it analyzes several proposed alternatives to the aircraft carrier. It argues that there are several relevant lessons from previous A2AD challenges with aircraft carriers and the United States ability to conduct sea control and power projection, and that none of the aircraft carrier alternatives can sufficiently provide the necessary capabilities across a range of military operations. It concludes that incorporating innovative employment of carrier strike groups in an A2AD environment, while also pursuing advancements in the air wings operating range, provides a viable solution to redressing theA2AD threat.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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