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    HomeMilitaryU.S. Navy's Submarine Dilemma: Strategic Missteps Endanger National Security

    U.S. Navy’s Submarine Dilemma: Strategic Missteps Endanger National Security

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    The United States Navy encounters sharp criticism as it navigates a contentious modernization trajectory that phases out established assets such as the Los Angeles-class submarines in favor of untested, expensive alternatives.

    This path lies at the intersection of military progress and strategic necessity.

    With an imposing $1 trillion defense budget, the Navy’s decision to phase out these venerable underwater workhorses arises as a heated debate.

    060411-N-1810F-001 Kings Bay, Ga. (April 11, 2006) Ð The Ohio-class guided missile submarine USS Florida (SSGN 728) makes her way through Cumberland Sound to Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay. Florida will be officially welcomed to her new home in Kings Bay with a return to service ceremony scheduled for May 25, 2006 in Mayport, Fla. Florida is the second of four SSBN submarines to be converted to the guided missile SSGN platform. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Lynn Friant (RELEASED)

    The Los Angeles-class subs, a backbone of America’s undersea force, have been vital in countering anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) threats—strategies employed by adversaries to prevent U.S. military access to strategic regions.

    051025-N-9288T-001 Manama, Bahrain (Oct. 25, 2005) – The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760) prepares to arrive pierside in Manama, Bahrain for a brief port visit. Annapolis is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment conducting maritime security operations (MSO). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Brandon A. Teeples (RELEASED)

    Critics argue that decommissioning these submarines in favor of next-generation models creates a risky capability gap, as the new tech, including the F-35 and upcoming submarines, may not be battle-ready until 2045.

    Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt Warthog” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The enduring worth of the A-10 Warthog, described as “a flying artillery piece,” is also under scrutiny.

    F-35 Lightning II completes Edwards testing” by MultiplyLeadership is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Its potential retirement for F-35 jets—less adept at close air support—mirrors the broader trend of prioritizing expensive, high-tech systems over practical, tested assets.

    An aerial port quarter view of the Russian Northern Fleet VICTOR III class nuclear-powered attack submarine underway on the surface. (Exact date unknown)

    The A-10’s robustness and cost-effectiveness only underscore the questionable shift in defense strategy.

    Turning to the seas, the Navy’s current investment in aircraft carriers is challenged by A2/AD technologies that potentially render carriers less effective.

    The push to build a new submarine fleet faces financial and industrial constraints, threatening to create a vacuum where the undetectable, missile-carrying power of subs is crucial for power projection in contested waters.

    The Los Angeles-class’s strategic importance cannot be overstated, yet the decision to retire them could leave the U.S. vulnerable during the pivotal near-term years leading up to 2027.

    090805-N-1841C-013 KINGS BAY, Ga. (Aug. 5, 2009) The guided-missile submarine USS Georgia (SSGN 729) prepares to get underway from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga. for the first time since conversion from a ballistic missile submarine to a guided-missile submarine in 2008. (U.S. Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kimberly Clifford/Released)

    The Navy’s SSBNs, often dubbed “boomers,” epitomize the silent might of American force. Each Ohio-class submarine, designed for stealthy, precise nuclear strikes, fortifies the nation’s second-strike capability.

    The operational efficacy of these vessels, as highlighted by the U.S. Navy Fact File, is a testament to the strategic value of submarine forces in national defense.

    This looming window of vulnerability signals a call to action: to re-evaluate the decommissioning of the Los Angeles-class subs and ensure that the fleet’s strength is not prematurely diminished.

    These critical years demand vigilance and a readiness to meet emergent threats with proven capabilities, to forestall potential disaster and safeguard a future where American undersea prowess remains unchallenged.

    Relevant articles:
    The U.S. Navy’s Los Angeles-Class Submarine Nightmare Is Chilling, The National Interest
    Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (.mil)

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