US Navy too slow, too outdated to match China’s surging fleet – Asia Times

US Navy too slow, too outdated to match China's surging fleet - Asia Times

The US Navy is struggling to keep up with China’s fast manufacturing advancements and is plagued by ship repair delays and antiquated design practices.

US Government Accountability Office ( GAO ) data released this month revealed that less than 40 % of US Navy ships had finished repairs on time despite having shipyard space available.

The most pressing preparation issue facing the US armed forces was ranked second only to the F-35 Lightning II atmosphere warrior sustainment costs by the GAO as the most difficult one.

The US Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program ( SIOP), which aims to enhance the quality of dry docks, facilities and equipment, lacks a comprehensive cost and schedule estimate, the USNI report said.

Through better planning, identifying long-lead items needed, and increasing labor dimensions and skills, the US Navy collaborates with personal and public yards to reduce servicing delays before returning to service. However, it is still having trouble keeping boats repaired on day and on budget.

Additionally, Naval Technology reported this month that prolonged style processes make it seem like the US Navy’s deliver style process is very slow and predictable. In light of the ambiguous political conditions, the US Navy’s business base, according to Naval Technology, is having trouble delivering the area fleet at a pace that can meet its needs.

Shorter, more repetitive design and construction cycles are prioritized by commercial ship owners and builders, which results in ships that are more timely and appropriate for existing user requirements. According to the Naval Technology review, the ship design practices of the US Navy slow down and produce less predictable cost, schedule, and performance results.

The US Navy also has a history of laggard style practices and administrative difficulties. According to the GAO, the US Navy is slow to embrace cutting-edge ship-design tools. The GAO found that business builders ‘ use of these tools is still more common than it is for Navy shipyards.

Defense One mentions how shipbuilders and maintenance companies, like Chevron and Damen, have used online merging in the commercial sector. Additionally, according to Defense One, shipbuilders are keen to use cutting-edge 3D design rendering and mixed reality.

Yet, the US Navy faces impediments in obtaining supplier- furnished data (VFI ) information, which is necessary for online modeling. The Defense One report noted that the need for new modern tools and the continued usage of 2D design data for identity send classes are also challenges.

Shipyards want more specific needs from the US Navy and financial aid for acquiring and putting these tools into practice.

These stumbling blocks are putting pressure on the US’ defence strategy when it competes with China, whose shipbuilding capacity is 232 times greater than the US’, which is nearly rival to that of its closest rival, China.

Defense One noted in February 2024 that Admiral Samuel Paparo, Jr, brain of US Indo- Pacific Command ( INDOPACOM), said that while the US is not overmatched in the manufacturing space, the path is not perfect. He suggested that US software, like autonomous cars, may mitigate the size of China’s ship.

But, Reuters reported this month that the Pentagon’s devotion to large manufacturing jobs is causing the US Navy’s efforts to build a ship of robotic ships to fail.

The Pentagon is reportedly taking lessons from the Black Sea and Red Sea to combat China in the Pacific, citing Ukraine’s use of explosive-laden unmanned surface vehicles ( USV ) to sink Russian Black Sea Fleet warships and the Houthi’s use of such in the Red Sea against commercial vessels.

However, the Reuters statement says that the Pentagon’s budget process, which prioritizes big boats and boats built by lineage defense contractors, has been the biggest barrier to growth.

It makes note of the US Navy’s$ 172 million budget for small and medium-sized underground water drones this year. That budget may drop to US$ 101.8 million in 2025.

Military water drones can range from missile-armed speed boats to mine-hunting small boats and boats with high-definition spy cameras, underwater detectors, and loudspeakers to issue warnings to enemy ships.

Despite this, Reuters reports that over the past three years the Pentagon has been looking for creative ways to” cross the valley of death” and spur innovation. Due to some large, traditional manufacturing projects that are years behind schedule and cost between US$ 1 million and US$ 3 million per drone, drones are a low and quick way to boost the US Navy’s fleet.

For instance, The Warzone reported last month that Northrop Grumman had finished building its first full-scale Manta-Ray uncrewed underwater vehicle ( UUV) prototype to help the agency’s development of a new class of multi-mission submersible drones.

The drone was created by DARPA as part of the Manta Ray initiative, which aims to demonstrate cutting-edge technologies for a brand-new, long-lasting underwater vehicle capable of carrying payloads. The drone’s design is based on an extra- large glider imitating a manta ray’s smooth and elegant movements.

According to the source, the Manta Ray project aims to develop a self-sufficient, autonomous underwater vehicle that can perform a variety of tasks. The vehicle could operate independently, without human intervention, and gather energy to power itself.

The demonstration vehicle has “energy-saving technologies” that allow it to anchor on the seafloor and hibernate in a low-power state.

Northrop has also designed energy- harvesting technology, such as the Mission Unlimited Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Station, which combines Seatrec’s Thermal Energy Pod with Northrop’s invention of a self- insulating, wet- mate electrical connector, enabling submerged underwater connections.

The Warzone notes that DARPA’s testbed has a payload capacity for various missions, but the types of payloads are unclear. For deployment worldwide, the Manta-Ray prototype can be quickly delivered in five standard containers.

However, The Warzone report says that whether the US Department of Defense ( DOD ) ultimately procures Northrop’s offering remains unclear. It states that having a variety of UUV levels will be important in any upcoming maritime battle, particularly when rivals are heavily investing in UUVs, including China.