My view is it was on balance a missed opportunity, but with a few nuggets in it that have promise if they are fleshed out more - specifically Payloads over Platforms - but today's post isn't about my commentary.
2025 will be a year not dissimilar to 2011. A third of the Navy will be deployed overseas, much of it in the Arabian Sea. The same ship classes in commission today will be in commission then. USS NIMITZ will celebrate its 50th anniversary in commission. USS FORD will have deployed and some system that no one was expecting to break and cause problems did.
Total aviation flying hours will have been reduced from what they are today – with make up time in simulators. However, since we will only have 8 carrier air wings the time per pilot is not significantly altered. UCAV will have made its first deployment and the lessons learned will herald it a tactical and strategic success. Deckplate hesitance over its real capabilities during deployment will remain despite the positive reports.
In submarine warfare MRUUVs will only be in early fielding tests with no significant technological changes in engine operation or communications having been solved over the next 15 years. The last of the Los Angeles Class will be decommissioned while the 688(I), Seawolf, and Virginia Classes remain operational. Block IV and V of the Virginia Class were cancelled in favor of the Ohio Replacement. The Ohio replacement program will have been delayed twice, and in all shipbuilding arenas there will be questions of the capability of the shipyards to complete quality work after a loss of skilled labor. There will be discussions in the Navy of cancelling or truncating the Ohio Replacement and restarting the Virginia class line, using Virginia Class and the Virginia Payload Module to serve as ballisitic missile submarines. The Trident II/D5 will remain the only operational sea launched ballistic missile.
In surface warfare, a spate of failed INSURV inspections will plague the Littoral Combat Ships and aged Flight I Arleigh Burkes. The first seven Arleigh Burkes will be decommissioned prior to their 35 year Expected Service Life, being deemed too costly to operate with the large required crews and too old to upgrade to modern combat systems. The same fate will befall the Ticonderoga-class cruisers, with 9 being retained in service to act as escorts for the super carriers.
The Flight III Arleigh Burkes, after having been fully optimized for atni-ballistic missile operations will be found to be suboptimized for anti-air warfare and will have been relegated to ABM deterrence patrols.
The planned replacement for the LSD 41 class will have been cancelled and the Navy will have decided to drop the amphibious lift requirement to a fiscally constrained 24 ships, having settled on the San Antonio and Wasp/America classes as the ships for the two ship amphibious readiness group (renamed “expeditionary influence squadron”). The Marine Corps will reluctantly accept this change but will openly speak against it.
In aviation, the Lightning II cancellation will have left a development gap and the type models and series flying in 2011 will remain in service. A Joint Future Fighter program between the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force will have begun seeking a single common aircraft, but will end with three differing models – one twin engined model for carrier operations, a single engine model for land based operations, and a short take off and vertical landing version to operate from the Wasp/America classes and austere airfields.
The HMMWV will remain the Marine Corps’ land mobility vehicle of choice. The drive train will have been merged with a US version of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid engine.
Navy sailors will remain the dominant fighting spirit within the Navy and will continue a century long tradition of success at sea with minimal support from the shore infrastructure. And they will do this while supporting five years at sea for every one year on shore duty. Most will separate from the service either at the end of their initial enlistment, or at the twelve to fifteen years of service mark, taking their 401K into the civilian sector. Making Chief Petty Officer will be a competition among those remaining, with Sea Duty Incentive Pay and Continuation Bonus Pay being offered to E6 and above in an attempt to convince them to remain on Active Duty.