Both China and Russia possess hypersonic missiles that can travel at 10 times the speed of sound, or 7,670 miles per hour. Currently, the United States has no defense against them. A frantic move is afoot to develop laser weapons that could arguably intercept hypersonic missiles. However, deployment of lasers that could manage this is not going to happen tomorrow. It’s a long-term proposition, with no guarantee of success. Unlike anti-intercontinental ballistic missile systems, hypersonic weapons do not necessarily fly in a predictable parabolic path. Their unpredictable, zig-zag flight paths and maneuverability makes them more difficult to detect, track and intercept. Northrup Grumman hopes to have a testable laser defense weapon ready in 2027 at the earliest.
Picture the Ford patrolling the South China Sea in the Taiwan Strait. If China launched a hypersonic missile from its coastal battery, the carrier would have less than 45 seconds to detect the missile and fire a laser weapon if it actually had one. At three-and-a-half football fields in length, the Gerald R. Ford is the largest aircraft carrier afloat. Its size means that the folks firing hypersonic missiles at it would not have to worry much about precision targeting. It would be like hitting the broad side of a barn from inside the barn.
U.S. intelligence has known for years that Russia and China were developing hypersonic weapons. Nevertheless, the Navy with congressional encouragement continued to go ahead with the carrier project. The existing 10-carrier fleet, accounting for more than 20 percent of the world’s carriers and more than 50 percent of all carrier deck space, was apparently not enough to provide easy pickings for our hypersonic missile-armed adversaries.
Having learned nothing from innumerable prior defense debacles, and demonstrating little concern for the good of the nation, Congress is in the process of approving an $858 billion defense authorization bill. This obscene amount of taxpayer largesse thrown at the Pentagon is larger than the defense budgets of the next nine big defense spender countries. It is the poster child for government waste, fraud, abuse and monumental mismanagement. The bill is full of goodies intended to satisfy every state and congressional district and thus secure the votes of virtually every member of Congress without hesitation or even bothering to read the bill. Moreover, we have become so numbed to grossly inflated defense budgets that one approaching a trillion dollars warrants almost no attention from the media and elicits no outrage from a public which is being fleeced annually.
My best advice: Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be sailors on the Ford.
December 16, 2022