The Navy’s penchant for building ever larger and more complex carrier strike forces is analogous to an effort to build ever larger mainframe computers while the world is already moving from distributed systems to the cloud. Precise weapons can also be placed on a wide range of craft — even fishing boats — raising the specter of the USS Cole suicide attack on steroids.
“Because the most critical naval competition will be a battle of signatures, a small signature-controlled combatant with long-range precision strike will be a decisive component of any fleet,” Hendrix pointed out in Proceedings.
The economics and efficacy of substituting modular and expendable payloads for large hulking platforms is compelling. Such a naval force structure would “more distributed, networked, numerous, elusive, small, long-range and hard to find,” David Gompert and Terrence Kelly of the