The Buzz

Aircraft Carriers, Submarines and More: 5 U.S. Weapons of War Donald Trump Will Make Great Again

When Donald Trump takes office as President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017, the new administration will have the opportunity to reverse defense cuts instituted under the Budget Control Act of 2011—aka sequestration. With control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Trump Administration will be able to increase defense outlays to match the threats America faces around the globe. While we don’t yet know the specifics of Mr. Trump’s defense policies, here are five key areas where the new administration might consider investing in.


Due to severe underinvestment during the 1990s in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War, the United States built only a handful of new attack submarines (SSN) to replace the fleet of Los Angeles-class SSNs that were built during the Reagan Administration. Thus, the Navy’s attack submarine fleet is set to shrink from about 52 SSNs to 41 boats in 2029. The service is already short of submarines to meet the demand from combatant commanders from around the globe. The Pentagon, under the Trump Administration, should–at a minimum—implement the Navy’s aspiration to continue building two Virginia-class SSNs per year indefinitely. If possible, the Trump Administration should try to increase the SSN build rate to three boats per year.

Penetrating Counter-Air:

While there are many proponents of restarting production of the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor—which was prematurely cancelled by the second Bush and later Obama Administrations—the aircraft is based on 30-year-old technology. The Trump Administration should accelerate the development and fielding of a new Penetrating Counter-Air air superiority fighter to replace both the F-22 and the F-15C Eagle. With the development of advanced Russian and Chinese fighters—such as the PAK-FA, J-20 and J-31—and powerful new air defense systems—such as the S-300V4, S-400 and S-500—the United States needs to move forward with developing next-generation air superiority capabilities.

Next Generation Air Dominance:

The United States Navy’s aircraft carrier strike groups afford Washington the ability to project its power around the globe on short notice. However, the carrier air wings onboard America’s nuclear-powered Nimitz and Ford-class carriers are less than ideal to defeat the latest Russian and Chinese anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) technologies. While the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is an excellent strike fighter, the Navy needs to replace that aircraft with a machine that has the range and penetrating capabilities to take on the latest A2/AD technologies—including anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles and air defenses like the S-400. Thus, Trump Administration needs to invest in a new long-range carrier-based strike and air superiority capability.

New Tank:

With Russia developing the new T-14 Armata series main battle tank and China developing its advanced Type-99 main battle tank, the U.S. Army’s new M1A2 SEP v.3 Abrams might not remain the world’s dominant armored combat platform for long. The U.S. Army is currently focusing on developing upgrades for the long-serving Abrams, but service officials admit that they would ideally like to build a new vehicle from scratch. However, there is no money to develop a new tank.

“I’d love to have replacement programs today for Abrams and Bradley and lay in plans to go do that,” Maj. Gen. David Bassett, the U.S. Army’s program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems told reporters the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington on Oct. 4. “But it doesn’t fit in this portfolio in this budget environment.”

Under a new Trump Administration together with a Republican-controlled Congress, there is an opportunity for the Army to develop a new tank to replace the Abrams.

Directed Energy Weapons: