Maritime Aviation: Light and Medium Aircraft Carriers into the Twenty-first Century.Hirschfeld, Thomas J., and Peter Hore This article is about the Australian "serial pest". For the Professor of Chemistry, see Peter Hore (professor).
Peter Hore is the nom de guerre of Peter Michael Howard (born 1960 in Australia). , eds. Maritime Aviation: Light and Medium Aircraft Carriers into the Twenty-first Century. Hull, U.K.: Univ. of Hull Press, 1999. 263pp. (no price given)
Hirschfeld and Hore have artfully edited the proceedings of an international conference on small and medium-sized aircraft carriers held in Southampton, England, in December 1997. Over ninety academic, industry, military, and media delegates from fourteen nations that have, or have had, or might procure small or medium carriers met to hear and discuss the presentations addressing carrier acquisition. Four main issues emerged: (1) the geo-strategic environment in which carriers might operate, (2) the infrastructure needed to support carriers, (3) choices of embarked aircraft and alternatives, and (4) regional effects of carrier acquisition.
There was a general agreement that the Cold War's strategic symmetry has been replaced by a lesser threat of general war but a greater one of regional or limited war, sparked by minor crises that had previously been held in check by the superpowers. Forces optimized for "blue water" are now turning their attention to littoral littoral /lit·to·ral/ (lit´ah-r'l) pertaining to the shore of a large body of water.
pertaining to the shore. operations. Meanwhile, the limits of littoral warfare littoral warfare
Military combat in and near shallow water depths. are expanding, by virtue of the capability and range of new-technology weapons. This new technology has made the majority of the world's cities, industry, populations, and political leaders susceptible to influence by littoral warfare. In this sense, Sir Julian Corbett Sir Julian Stafford Corbett (born 12 November 1854 in Thames Ditton, Surrey; died 21 September 1922 in Thames Ditton) was a prominent British naval historian and geostrategist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose works helped shape the Royal Navy's reforms of that era. may be eclipsing Alfred T. Mahan.
The world's maritime focus has shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans Indian Ocean, third largest ocean, c.28,350,000 sq mi (73,427,000 sq km), extending from S Asia to Antarctica and from E Africa to SE Australia; it is c.4,000 mi (6,400 km) wide at the equator. It constitutes about 20% of the world's total ocean area. , with a parallel shift from Cold War dynamics to the hyperspeed free trade and global economic interdependence Economic interdependence is a consequence of specialization, or the division of labor, and is almost universal. It was described at least by 1828, when A. A. Cournot wrote, "but in reality the economic system is a whole of which the parts are connected and react on each other. of today's marketplace--activities that are dependent on maritime assets. The nurturing of a low-threat, stable environment at sea to facilitate a steady supply of energy and unobstructed movement of foreign trade is the context in which nations examine the relevance and credibility of carrier capabilities.
For a nation without a large shipbuilding industrial base, a carrier program carries considerable infrastructure baggage that affects decisions whether to build or buy abroad. Nations that do have the industrial base engage in debates regarding size, capability, and the national economic benefits of continuing a robust carrier program or of "ramping up" a dormant program. In both cases, the burden of development, design, procurement, and life-cycle costs, not only for the air-capable platform itself but also for the embarked aircraft, is balanced against a carrier's perceived utility in today's strategic environment. Building at home means jobs, expanding markets, and technology benefits that would necessarily accrue to others if the carriers were built abroad.
Interestingly, issues of alternative aircraft mixes on air-capable decks greatly complicate com·pli·cate
tr. & intr.v. com·pli·cat·ed, com·pli·cat·ing, com·pli·cates
1. To make or become complex or perplexing.
2. To twist or become twisted together.
1. the rational calculus calculus, branch of mathematics that studies continuously changing quantities. The calculus is characterized by the use of infinite processes, involving passage to a limit—the notion of tending toward, or approaching, an ultimate value. but must be integral to decision making. Will there be conventional-takeoff-and-landing aircraft requiring steam catapults and arresting gear See: aircraft arresting gear. ? What are the implications for required deck size and steam generation capability? Will there be short takeoffs and landings that need only a ramp deck, or a mix, with a ramp but arresting gear for conventional landing? Or strictly helicopters? In some cases, reliance on the anticipated availability of the U.S. joint strike fighter A strike fighter is a fighter aircraft which is also capable of attacking surface targets, including ships. It differs from an attack aircraft in that the aircraft remains a capable fighter. , if successful as a program, is a wild card. The cost-benefit evaluation of aircraft and ship mix options is worthy of a close read. Not surprisingly, affordability is an issue that ranks high on every agenda.
The varied perceptions of the regional impacts of carrier acquisition are a most insightful feature of this book. Regional balances of power are thought to be zero sum, perhaps rightly so. If one nation acquires carrier capability, others in the region may feel compelled to acquire a counter-capability--but regional carrier effects focus on littoral operations to safeguard national interests, not on aggression. Overriding concerns were for flexible, mobile forces for use in both war and peace, joint and coalition interoperability The capability of two or more hardware devices or two or more software routines to work harmoniously together. For example, in an Ethernet network, display adapters, hubs, switches and routers from different vendors must conform to the Ethernet standard and interoperate with each other. , and the ability to operate wherever interests dictate without relying on help or support from nearby states. Qualities of carrier mobility, versatility, sustained reach, autonomy, lift capacity, and "poise" (the ability to exert diplomatic and military leverage) are attributes seen as particularly suited to the unpredictable operations of the present and future littoral.
In summary, as a collection of disparate regional views of the relevance of aircraft carriers to today's geostrategic ge·o·strat·e·gy
n. pl. ge·o·strat·e·gies
1. The branch of geopolitics that deals with strategy.
2. The geopolitical and strategic factors that together characterize a certain geographic area.
3. world, this book is a wise choice for anyone interested in carriers, and an even better choice for those interested in the littoral.