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Importance of the Carrier Strike Group
As demonstrated throughout history and ongoing today, the autonomy, maneuverability, survivability and capability of a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) make it one of the most effective diplomatic tool in the National Command Authority's toolbox. The CSG provides the national command authority with options, access, and forward presence allowing for rapid response to threats or natural disasters. 
Even when faced with contested international waters and air domains the composition of a CSG ensures survivability of its nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and their embarked carrier air wings (CVW) enabling the United States to act as a key guarantor of peace and stability around the world.
 
Navy aircraft carriers are four and a half sovereign acres of U.S. territory and with embarked carrier air wings are vital to U.S. national security and free navigation of international waters because it provides the speed, endurance, flexibility, range, reach and lethality without the requirement of diplomatic clearance to deploy aircraft to foreign soils.
 
CSGs, with the carriers’ organic command and control, communications, and intelligence capabilities, and  supported by carrier air wings’ (CVW) squadrons of strike fighters, early airborne warning, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare packages of maritime strike (HSM) helicopters, electronic attack/ electronic jamming warfare and carrier onboard delivery provides organic re-supply and transport services, as well as the flexibility to support other missions as required, result in a fully-functional globally-deployable center of capability.
 
Carrier Strike Group Presence Matters
Carrier Strike Groups (CSG), typically comprised of a nuclear powered aircraft carrier (CVN) and its embarked air wing, one guided-missile cruiser, a couple of guided-missile destroyers, and a supply ship, train and deploy as a team with well-established integrated tactics, techniques, and procedures that allow for freedom of maneuver in the global commons.  As a complex, joint force multiplier, with a command and control and organic logistical capabilities, there exists no comparable way to quickly generate the effects crucial to American diplomatic and economic interests that carrier aviation offers.
 
The carrier strike group remains the fastest way to deploy American Forces – whether in a show of force or a real fight – that America has or is likely to develop. Carriers have provided sustained peacetime presence and have been first-on-scene for nearly every crisis over the past 75 years; where and when needed without the fiscal political investment required for shore basing.  The power-projection ability of a carrier and its air wing provides a decisive advantage for U.S. forces and continues to be the key guarantor of peace and stability around the world.
 
Nuclear powered aircraft carrier can sail to any theater of operations to support crisis or contingency operations. The embarked carrier air wing addresses the implementation of complex and nuanced rules of engagement that are scenario dependent.  Cruise missiles from surface ships and submarines are part of the strike warfare equation and when they are combined with carrier air wing ordnance that provides alternative capability and capacity not provided by cruise missiles, the CSG provides unmatched capability and sustained operations at sea across a full range of military operations.
 
Technological Air Advantage

Our Carrier Air Wing continues to evolve, keeping pace with technological advances and incorporating future capabilities as they come on line. The combination of advanced strike-fighters, airborne electronic attack aircraft, airborne early-warning aircraft, and antisubmarine-warfare helicopters, all with netted sensors and weapons, provides a shipboard integrated-capability package that is responsive and relevant in any operational scenario in any theater.

Advancements in sensors and radar technology enable the fifth-generation Navy variant stealth fighter F-35C Lightning II to identify, target and engage threats faster and with greater reach than any other aircraft in existence.  The reach, the ability to engage the target before adversary sensors detect the presence of Lightning II, is the greatest benefit and the F-35C and will integrate and share data with upgraded F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers.

The F-35C brings the ability to fuse information, collect the signals and things that are out in the environment and fuse it all together and deliver that picture to the rest of the carrier strike group, and has an ability to carry more ordnance to the carrier.

F/A-18 Super Hornets, with the ability to carry large payloads of advanced weapons will continue to provide lethality and flexibility, and complement the F-35C to provide a very capable high/low mix of strike-fighters that can deliver responsiveness and firepower across the range of military operations.
 
The EA-18G Growler provides electromagnetic spectrum dominance, providing the ability to protect the carrier strike group and support joint forces on the ground and disrupt enemy communications.  The Growler will receive an electromagnetic weapon called the Next-Generation Jammer that will greatly expand the electronic attack capability of the aircraft and, among other things, allow it to jam multiple frequencies at the same time.
 
Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) will provide the CSG with persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capacity plus time critical targeting and precision strike capability and additional mission fueling capability to the carrier air wing. After the RQ-25 UAS achieves IOC and is welcomed into the fleet it will provide the CSG with organic on-demand ISR assets without requirements of authorization, travel or relocating fleet ISR assets off of mission.
 
The range of our aircraft along with the range of our weapons gives us a longer reach than ever before, combined with the technology today allows for positive control identification and extreme precision. Long range weapons enable our aircrew to conduct precision strikes without having to go as deep into harm’s way.  These weapons greatly increase the reach of our CVWs without increasing risk to our personnel. 
 
Navy is working a number of next-generation ship defenses such as Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (NIFCCA), a system which uses Aegis radar along with an SM-6 interceptor missile and airborne relay sensor to detect and destroy approaching enemy missiles from distances beyond the horizon.
 
Carriers of the Future
The new Ford-class aircraft carriers are reengineered with next-generation technologies to improve safety, increase efficiencies in manpower, decrease maintenance costs, and create greater sortie rates, which translate into greater striking power while reducing strain on the carrier air wing.  The first-in-class Ford supercarrier is the pre-commissioned unit (PCU) Gerald R. Ford (PCU-78), and is expected to join the fleet this year.
 
The Ford has a larger flight deck, introduces the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) which replaces the steam-driven catapults, new Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) replaces hydraulic-operated arresting gears, two new systems which will reduce infrastructure, increase sorties by 33 percent and reduces maintenance.  Ford is powered by four 26-megawatt generators creating 104 megawatts to support EMALS, AAG, dual-band radar, and power for future technological advancements in weapons and combat systems such as the rail-gun and lasers.  Lasers could replace some existing missile systems and will provide an overall higher rate of annihilation.

 

Next-generation technologies and increased automation on board the Ford-class carriers are also designed to decrease man-power needs or crew-size of the ship, resulting in significant savings over the life of the ships.

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Interesting Reading
 
 
The Carriers – U.S. Navy Website
 
 
Aircraft Carriers - The Unique Value of America’s Most Famous Combat System – Lexington Inst., Nov. 2016
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers
 
East Coast
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)
Norfolk, VA
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
Norfolk, VA
USS George Washington (CVN 73)
Norfolk, VA
USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75)
Norfolk, VA
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77)
Norfolk, VA
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
Norfolk, VA
 
 
West Coast
USS Nimitz (CVN 68)
Bremerton, WA
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
San Diego, CA
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)
San Diego, CA
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74)
Bremerton, WA
 
Overseas
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)
Yokosuka, Japan