While it may not seem it, aircraft super-carriers may be useless and not because aviation technology has improved but because of an existing weapon.
It’s called the KH-22 and was developed by the Soviets. It can sink a super-carrier from miles away at Mach 5.
Why haven’t we had an issue with it yet? Because our enemy never had enough of them to strike.
DodBuzz asks an interesting question: Will aircraft carriers remain useful in future wars? The answer is no. And the reason is missiles like you’re seeing in this photograph: a Raduga KH-22 cruise missile mounted on a Tupolev Tu-22 Backfire long-range strike bomber.
Mark Jacobson—former advisor to General Stanley McChrystal and ex-CIA chief General David Petraeus—told DodBuzz that America’s potential enemies are constantly thinking about how to beat the US military with new tactical ideas but, surprisingly, the Pentagon seems to be anchored in the past:
The services don’t change. I’m not sure all the service chiefs get this yet… Are we focusing on new types of destroyers? Is anybody willing to question the existence of aircraft carriers? If you look at history this may be the battleship all over again […] It won’t be a useful weapon in the Taiwan Straits, and it may not be one 15 years from now, depending on how many nations have hypersonic missiles.
In fact, they can be rendered useless today. Carriers have been indispensable platforms in recent wars—without them, the US wouldn’t have been able to quickly deploy air squadrons in different operation theaters. However, this has only been possible because the US Navy wasn’t facing an enemy equipped with a KH-22 or a similar weapon.
The KH-22 is supersonic cruise missile that can sink an American super carrier from miles away, hitting them at Mach 5. It was designed by the Soviet Union after analyzing the naval battles of World War II. They asked this question: If we can attack aircraft carriers from a long distance, do we need to match their air power? The answer was obvious. Just like the battleship was rendered useless by aircraft carriers, the latter can also be neutralized with fast, impossible to stop missiles fired from a long distance. That’s why the KH-22 was developed. With the newest variants, an airplane can fire one of these beasts from almost 372 miles (600 kilometers) away, opening a hole five meters in diameter and a dozen meters deep into any ship.