The USS Ronald Reagan sets the global standard for aircraft carriers. Two nuclear reactors power the ship for an unlimited range for years at a time. CCTV’s Nathan King was granted exclusive access to the ship as it participates in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
On deck the Ronald Reagan, the flagship of U.S. aircraft carriers, is a concentration of firepower unrivaled. It launches aircraft at speeds that shake the body and stretch the mind.
The USS Ronald Reagan: On board the flagship of U.S. aircraft carriersThe USS Ronald Reagan sets the global standard for aircraft carriers. Two nuclear reactors power the ship for an unlimited range for years at a time. CCTV's Nathan King was granted exclusive access to the ship as it participates in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise.
Pilots– some barely into their 20s– fly these multi-million dollar planes. The dedicated ground crew make sure they make it into the air. Even so, landing makes taking off seem like child’s play.
Jets that fly at hundreds of miles an hour come to a standing stop in under two seconds, making it no wonder why the crew love their job.
Stepping back from the spectacle that is an air craft carrier, there is a central question: in this age of low intensity warfare and tight defense budgets, do these floating airfields (costing $10 billion) make sense?
The commander of the carrier’s strike group, Rear Admiral Patrick Hall, insisted they are more relevant than ever.
The U.S. has more aircraft carriers than the rest of the world put together. A debate in Washington swirls on whether the re-balance to Asia means more carriers are needed or whether more nimble ships are called for. Meanwhile, other nations are building them, and China also has one.
China’s plans for more are often reported. However, Rear Admiral Patrick Hall says he doesn’t see that as a threat.
There’s also a psychological effect of an aircraft carrier — it’s the ultimate symbol of a nations power projection.
The Reagan is powered by two nuclear reactors. If required, it could stay at sea for years, with no permission from any other nation needed. It can also go anywhere and launch some of the most sophisticated fighters money can buy. In a changing world, it is a constant on the horizon ready to go anywhere and do anything.
For more on RIMPAC, CCTV was joined by Andrew Borene, Defense Council Advisor at the Truman National Security Project and attorney at Steptoe & Johnson.