It matters what they carry as weapon systems which defines them as either “bad” or “good”, to put it in the layman’s lingo. Remarkably, this is not the idea former Senator Jim Talent and former armor officer Lindsey Neas can wrap their brains around, when they write, in the neocon rag The National Review, next:
I write extensively on the pitiful state of the American shipbuilding industry in general, and commercial one in particular, in my latest book. So, the fact that some steps are being undertaken to revitalize some shipyards seems to be a logical set of actions. But the issue here is not that pouring money on the problem will somehow resolve a huge list of issues for the United States naval power in its attempt to shape itself up trying to meet China PLAN’s challenge. Not only Congressional Budget Office (CBO) doubts that this whole thing will make huge difference, when writing about subs:
It is all fine and dandy, but if one follows Talent’s and Neas’ ideas of “sea power”:
One is immediately struck by, to put it mildly, “platform-centricity” of naval thinking of these two guys. Sure, numbers matter, they always do, but the issue, apart from making a strategic and operational sense to ramp up submarine production, where even today the US Navy enjoys a decisive technological edge over PLAN, is what those aircraft carriers and destroyers will carry as their weapon systems? I omit here a reality of building more carriers, but does the United states seriously thinks that it can “outcarrier” mainland China which was steadily improving what no US aviator encountered since Vietnam, its comprehensive air-defense system and what no US aviator encountered since Korea–a very capable Air Force. Even authors of this alarmist and “give-us-more-money” piece admit:
But I have news for them, one doesn’t fight wars with “presence” and China today, apart from having a deterrence of her own, has weapon systems whose analogues the US Navy will not have for a long time, if ever and that makes all the difference in the world. I am talking about, of course, anti-shipping missiles which effectively annul any legacy surface force in case of a serious war. Not only the US Navy will not be able to deploy enough CBGs around Taiwan to impress China which did put her carrier-building program in the turbo-charged mode. The whole area around Taiwan already today is an exclusion zone for any type of a surface force, simply on the merit of China having enough “weight” in salvo to effectively overwhelm any current sea-based air-defense and this capability, augmented in the nearest future with the hypersonic capability (and, most likely, Russia-provide targeting), makes no difference in terms of actual power projection, which, as a viable concept in peer-to-peer scenario, ceased to exist at least a decade or two ago.
There are no reasons, so far, to believe that the United States can address this main, and a host of other related issues when planning for “containment” and “deterrence” of China–a set of the hollow Pentagonese catch-phrases and buzz-word which are absolutely meaningless in the world of accelerating development of a very to very long range anti-shipping supersonic and hypersonic missiles, which really do not discriminate what legacy air-defense they overcome or what legacy platform they hit–they can and will do that in case of war. This is the idea which is slow on arrival to the minds of the American naval thinkers who never graduated from the views on the naval warfare as a combination of impressive visuals and battles of carrier-centric navies of the Pacific War of 1940s. This merely underscores a complete strategic and doctrinal dead-end in Pentagon and inability to adapt to ever changing realities of a modern warfare. But, of course, visuals are important, wink, wink. But ships are merely platforms and if the US Navy thinks that it can fight China in her geographic vicinity with “alpha-strikes” of carrier aviation and with subsonic medium-range Naval Strike Missile, I think this era of naval warfare has passed long time ago. Ah, yes, I forgot–take a look at that.