Approximately 80 aircraft carriers and major amphibious warfare ships, valued at $59.37 billion, will be commissioned between now and 2026, according to a new report.
This includes nine aircraft carriers, comprising two each for Britain, China, India and the United States and one for Japan. These nine ships represent only about 11 percent of the total for this sector, but have an aggregate value of $32.2 billion, or 54.2 percent of the sector total, according to Forecast International.
“It is an essential truth that aircraft carriers dominate the seas and make operations by hostile fleets without such ships impossible,” said Forecast International Naval Analyst Stuart Slade. “Aircraft carriers are the key element that turns a local navy into a regional power. That is why we see these ships being adopted by an increasing number of navies.”
The spread of aircraft carrier capability is being matched by the widespread procurement of large-deck amphibious warfare ships. “These days it is rare to find a helicopter-carrying amphibious warfare ship in the LPH, LHA or LHD categories that is not configured with a through deck. Even dock landing ships such as LPDs and LSDs for which helicopter operation is a secondary role are increasingly being designed with through decks,” Forecast International said.
According to Slade, these ships resemble aircraft carriers and the distinction between the two is becoming blurred.
“Each successive generation of amphibious warfare ships is larger, carries more aircraft, and has greater fuel, munitions and maintenance capability,” said Slade. “With the arrival of highly-capable aircraft such as the F-35B that can fly from these amphibious warfare ships, the same warship can fill either strike or amphibious roles according to circumstances.”
The large-deck amphibious warfare ship has spread across the world, providing nations with ambitions to become regional powers with an affordable route to obtaining the essential organic air power needed to claim that status. Italy, Spain, South Korea, Thailand, India, China, Australia, Egypt, Russia and Japan have all acquired ships of this type. Additional navies look set to follow this route as the need to project power into their maritime resource areas grows.
“The power projection capability of the aircraft carrier makes it inevitable that their procurement continue through the forecast period, with navies orienting their procurement plans according to their resources and their strategic objectives,” Forecast International said.
“Those nations that can afford aircraft carriers will procure them,” said Slade. “Those navies that need them but can’t afford them will get amphibious warfare ships and some suitable aircraft. One thing remains the same; when facing a navy with organic naval air power, a navy lacking those capabilities has only the options of withdrawing or getting sunk.”