“If Ukraine’s Neptune ASCMs upended Russia’s naval presence in the Black Sea with ease, clearly the U.S. Navy and Congress must consider whether our pacing threat is capable of the same.
The U.S. Navy has been furiously working on countermeasures, such as longer-range radars and integrated air and missile defense systems, both of which are being incorporated into new ship construction. The Navy also expressed confidence in the contribution of our submarine fleet with a higher budget for submarine construction and plans to extend the life of older Los Angeles-class subs.
These vessels are relatively impervious to the ASCM threat; our surface fleet is not. Today’s surface fleet must be capable to detect, track and engage our adversaries’ most capable anti-ship missiles, and have the structural integrity to survive damage sustained in combat.
President Joe Biden’s proposed Navy budget reflects the need to think through this strategic challenge. On the one hand, the request of $28 billion for Navy shipbuilding is the largest ever. By way of comparison, then-President Donald Trump’s last budget in 2020 requested $19 billion. But Biden’s request also seeks to decommission a number of legacy surface ships that predate the threat posed by modern anti-ship missiles. Predictably, this decision has been greeted by a chorus of protest, but nonetheless the fact remains: Every U.S. ship that sails into harm’s way must represent a relevant threat and be fit to fight.”