In World War II, the U.S. Navy made extensive use of small aircraft carriers, ranging from very small carriers escorting convoys (CVEs) to light aircraft carriers (CVLs) that were essentially downsized models of the iconic big carriers (CVs).
CVLs could handle post-WWII jets. However, the Navy concluded super carriers made more sense strategically and economically. Nuclear-powered super carriers (CVNs) could carry a wing of multi-mission, high-performance combat aircraft and pack an array of defensive weapons. They could remain at sea for months.
Smaller carriers currently are used to carry harrier jump jets and/or helicopters.
China has been a leader in long-range anti-carrier missiles. China has deployed the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM). The DF-21D is clearly designed to target and sink the US Navy large nuclear aircraft carriers.
The US US Navy officers is worried that just having big carriers is putting too many eggs in too few baskets.
The new plans are for two or three small carriers to go with the large carriers. There would be the addition of drones and F35 jets put onto the small carriers and also stronger drones onto every ship.
Arsenal ship – missile filled ship controlled by other airplanes and ships
Arsenal Ship concept art, via Globalsecurity.org.
MITRE’s future navy plan has a concept called the “Magazine Ship.” The MGX would carry up to 4 railguns, 1,000 missile silos, or 96 Pershing-III intermediate range ballistic—or some mix.
Three new navy plans all are focused on more ships, with more missiles, more drones and more planes. Lethality is increased with more missiles, more planes and more drones. The total number of weapons are increased and they are put on more ships.
Adding three small carriers would double the number of planes and drones in a carrier group.
A carrier strike group (CSG) is an operational formation of the United States Navy. It is composed of roughly 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier, at least one cruiser, a destroyer squadron of at least two destroyers and/or frigates, and a carrier air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft.
MGX ships could bring 3 to 5 times the number of missiles in a carrier group.
Adding railguns and lasers if about being to defend against more enemy missiles. Drones can shoot missiles and anti-missiles.