The carrier controversy is heating up. The latest developments include: (1) the pending reduction of the U.S. carrier force to ten ships, (2) Secretary of Defense Robert Gates probably delaying construction of the next carrier, the CVN-79, and (3) the catapult system for the carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)—the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)—may be having problems. If the last is correct, the carrier could be delayed years with a major increase in costs.
Some defenders of the current CVN program have made good arguments for these ships, and some have done very poorly. One of the clearest and most articulate arguments for them was written by Rear Admiral Terry Kraft in a recent issue of Proceedings.1 But most such articles and so-called "studies"—even that by Kraft—tend not to address three factors vital to the controversy: cost, capabilities, and concept of operations.