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Corsair / Sea Archer

According to some reports, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's spring 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review considered recommending that the Navy stop building large-deck Nimitz-class carriers in favor of smaller carriers that could be deployed in the coastal waters. This new class of "pocket" aircraft carriers, designated the Corsair, is envisioned as a vessel of only 6,000 tons displacement, with a crew of as few as 20 sailors. The Corsair might carry half a dozen of the Vertical Take-Off variant of the Joint Strike Fighter being developed for the Marine Corps. Alternatvely, the Corsairs might employ Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles [UCAVs]. Vessels like the Corsair might be built for several hundred million dollars, compared with the $4 billion construction cost of a Nimitz carrier. The Corsair could allow the Navy to operate in coastal waters, within range of shore-base anti-shipping cruise missiles, according to proponents of the concept. It could also allow the Navy to provide air cover for smaller post-Cold War operations, such as the peacekeeping missions in Haiti or East Timor, that either divert a Nimitz-class carrier or are conducted without air support.

The CVX design effort in the late 1990s onsidered a variety of alternative mid-sized carrier designs, including derivatives with alternative flight decks, fossil-fuel propulsion, low signature monohulls, and low signature catamaran.



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