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
News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Anderson plays Arthur Shelby in Peaky Blinders series two
tvReview: Arthur Shelby Jr seems to be losing his mind as his younger brother lets him run riot in London
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
News
In other news ... Jon Snow performed at last year's Newsroom's Got Talent charity event
people
News
i100
Life and Style
Text messaging changes as a relationship evolves
life
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
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

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?