The U.S. Navy hopes that its forthcoming Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) battle network will enable its carrier strike groups to operate inside highly contested environments such as the Western Pacific, but not everyone agrees that it will work. While the concept has merits, there are also some fundamental flaws—the NIFC-CA effort lacks any meaningful cooperation with the U.S. Air Force and could be vulnerable to enemy electronic or cyber warfare.
Further, some analysts contend that the NIFC-CA effort is merely a way to provide a justification for existing programs rather than a genuine effort to tackle the real challenges to the carrier’s relevance in future wars. “I really think it’s more of an evolutionary concept rather than a new approach that would effectively integrate future capabilities with current systems,” said Mark Gunzinger, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “It comes across as a concept that is intended to explain how the Navy will use its program of record capabilities for future wars.”1