The Navy needs to take a fresh look at its carrier-support aircraft—both the tankers used for in-flight refueling and the C-2A carrier onboard delivery (COD) plane that carries people and equipment to and from aircraft carriers when the ships are under way.
It’s not just the age and capabilities of the planes now being used for those missions. It’s also what strategy the Navy should follow in the post-Afghanistan era. As operations there wind down and the United States shifts its defense posture toward the Asia-Pacific region, naval aviation faces new challenges that cry out for full attention—and soon.
Today’s carrier strike group (CSG) combat operations are unlike any conducted before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. What 20th-century Navy planner even dreamed that the Taliban in land-locked Afghanistan would be defeated with the help of carrier strikes guided by soldiers on horseback and P-3 patrol aircraft?