SOFREP has reported about China’s third (and ongoing production for fourth) aircraft carrier as well as India’s very first aircraft carrier. But, how should the US take it to the next level? By producing the world’s first flying aircraft carrier.

Though aircraft carriers allow our troops to be agile in different locations, these are also very vulnerable targets. Once an enemy’s missile hits the carrier, aside from a loss in infrastructure, it would also result in a massive loss in strategic positioning on the battlefield. This is why a flying aircraft carrier could be the solution to this potential threat.

Naval aviation history is filled with various methods to bring our most powerful jet fighters to the sea. Our navies tried airships, submarines, and even sea takeoff, but these were not as efficient as our existing aircraft carriers.

During World War I and World War II, there has been a lot of experimentation in navies around the world. How do we use naval aviation, and where do we position them? In 1925, the US Navy’s USS Langley (CV-1) was the only aircraft carrier. Meanwhile, the Germans used the Los Angeles (zeppelin) to test their fixed-wing takeoff-and-landing concepts. What navies before were trying to do was to find out how feasible flying aircraft carriers would be. Are they cheaper to produce? Are they more efficient? How about operational training and manpower?

And now that our Navy has multiple aircraft carriers positioned all over the world, naval planners are still preparing for contingency plans to avoid future threats, specifically ones like China’s DF-26.

Dong Feng 26
The newly developed DF-26 medium-range ballistic missile as seen after the military parade held in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII. (Source: IceUnshattered/Wikimedia)

The DF-26, originally named Dong Feng-26 (东风-26) is an intermediate-range ballistic missile deployed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It has a range of 3,100 miles and can conduct precision nuclear or conventional strikes against the ground or naval targets. This powerful missile can possibly attack nuclear warheads in its first strike. Additionally, it was claimed that it is capable of reaching American military installations in Guam. Because of this notion, the DF-26 is also dubbed as the “Guam Express” or the “Guam Killer.”

What’s more, the DF-26 was put under live-fire testing on Aug. 26, 2020. The missile was launched into an area in the South China Sea between Hainan and the Paracel Islands after Washington blacklisted 24 Chinese companies who were reportedly part of illegal military activities in the South China Sea. US officials reported four DF-26 missiles were fired in total.

So, it is no wonder naval planners are still keen on finding alternatives when it comes to battling this firepower.