The carriers are still very useful IMO. Sure, a few powers may have what it takes to keep the carrier so far away as to make it not very useful as an
offensive weapon. That can be remedied by longer range aircraft. The US currently is looking for a true long range strike/air superiority fighter for
its' carriers. The jack of all trades Hornet has some range problems and in a battlefield where tankers cannot be protected the carriers reach is
limited. The F35 range is not too hot, either.
Even if the carrier can't get within range of one or two countries in the world it still has great use. It can deny shipping, as well as the
projection of any enemy naval forces (including invasion forces). And to be sure, in open water against any navy in the world the American carrier
group is so terrifying that I'm not even sure China or Russia even imagines themselves challenging it for control of the sea. Much less the more
likely scenario in a battlefield environment of having to face 2 or possibly 3 reinforced carrier groups in the same theatre. So barring offensive
capability the carrier can still command the blue oceans.
Hmmm, imagine a future carrier where drones are kept in a kind of mechanical revolving shelf (I'm imagining the drones in star wars), where the entire
operation of deploying them is automated. The launch and recovery speed could be blazing fast, while numbers of aircraft could be crazily high since
they could be stacked like cordwood.
Incidentally, the longe range air superiority navy fighter isn't the only plane the US lacks. There are not enough long range air force bombers,
either. The B52 is useless against real enemies, except in the cruise missile role. The B2s are nice, but expensive, slow and too few in number. The
B1s are actually good as well, but they are few in number also, and getting older. We don't have a medium bomber, either. The F-111 (medium load,
almost long range fighter/bomber) and F14 (long range air superiority) have never been replaced and it is a weak spot in the US arsenal.
2,000 mile range for the F22? That seems a bit far. I would have thought more like 1000-1200 miles tops (no loiter time meaning no secure airspace at
such a range)without a refuel.
edit on 12-6-2012 by Erectus because: (no reason given)