US plans 21st-century floating arsenals to police the globe

Christopher Bellamy looks at Washington's blueprint for a new- era fleet

The United States Navy is looking at a new generation of warships to replace Second World War battleships and some of its aircraft-carriers.

New ships called "arsenal" or "firepower ships", bristling with weapons, are one option being considered under the 21st-century Surface Combatant programme. Designed for "power projection", they could strike inland from the sea, hitting any point on the globe.

They would replace the huge veteran battleships refitted in the 1980s but now mothballed, as they require crews of up to 1,200. The battleship New Jersey bombarded Lebanon in 1983. Others launched cruise missiles against Baghdad and bombarded Iraqi coastal positions in the 1991 Gulf war.

The new vessels would carry Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, the Army's Tactical Ballistic Missile System, with a 100-mile range, and long- range guns that fire "smart" shells up to 50 miles.

The new ships, likely to be as large as battleships, would carry out many of the functions of aircraft-carriers, reversing 70 years of naval history.

Instead of ships launching planes that launch missiles, the 21st-century "arsenal ships" would cut out the aircraft and hit land targets directly with missiles, although US Navy sources say there was no question of entirely replacing aircraft-carriers. Vice-Admiral Joe Lopez told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the ships would be "literally an arsenal". They would carry Harpoon and Standard missiles and a sea-based version of the stand-off land-attack missile carried on the F/A-18 aircraft.

Navy sources estimated that the design work for an "arsenal ship" would cost $25m (£15m) a year for four years. The prototype would cost between $300m and $550m. A new gun with a 50-mile range would be needed.

In order for the shells to be fired accurately, each would need to be fitted with a global-positioning system.

As the Americans look ahead to a new generation of ships, there is still a market elsewhere for traditional aircraft-carriers.

India has decided to replace the Vikrant that it bought from Britain 20 years ago. Indian Defence Ministry sources recently told a Russian news agency they were looking at the Russian carrier Admiral Gorshkov. The alternative is the French carrier Clemenceau, which is to be replaced by the Charles de Gaulle in 1999.

The 40,500-ton Admiral Gorshkov, formerly Baku, was launched in 1982. It can carry helicopters and vertical-take-off aircraft. Of the three original Kiev- class carriers, two - Minsk and Novorossiysk - have been sold to South Korea for scrap and one - Kiev - appears to be used as a source of spares for the Admiral Gorshkov.

When the Soviet Union broke up, it had been building its first three US-style "flat-tops" - true carriers that could launch conventional aircraft. The only one in service, Admiral Kuznetsov, remains the Russian Navy's only operational carrier. The Varyag, formerly Riga, was still being fitted out and went to Ukraine when the Black Sea Fleet was split between the two countries. The third carrier, Ulyanovsk, was at an early stage of construction, and was scrapped.

China recently has shown an interest in purchasing Varyag from Ukraine. This interest has caused concern in the Far East owing to China's interest in the Spratly Islands. The islands are situated about 1,000 miles from China and are therefore out of range of most land-based attack aircraft.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform