What characteristics should the next aircraft carrier have? Those who will sail the next-generation carrier may answer quite differently than those who are designing it.
The debate surrounding the character of the Navy's next-generation aircraft carrier, the CVX, has been spirited. Critics of this large and expensive project have offered many reasons why it should not be as large as the current Nimitz class, and why it should not be nuclear powered. But this view is not shared by the sailors in the fleet who have been to sea in support of the national interests. It may prove useful to add a fleet operator's thoughts about what CVX should be. Intelligence prognostications have painted a new, post-Cold War world in which littoral conflicts, confined to small regions, will be the only real threat to our forces—and, by extension, to our national interests. Thus the rate at which the CVX must generate sorties can be reduced from the planning figures used for the Nimitz design. But the operators see this thinking as flawed.