To compete with China's plans to be a first-rate military power by 2049, the U.S. must grow its fleet to more than 500 ships by 2045, and more than 355 ships by the mid-2030s, Secretary of Defense Esper announced, confirming news reported last month by Defense News.
To get there, Esper said the Navy must prioritize above all else rapidly building up an attack submarine force of between 70 and 80 ships, up from its current force of 51. The Navy must also rethink how it uses carriers, proposing cutting up to four from the force structure while potentially repurposing the America-class amphibious assault ships as light carriers to hold down presence missions.
※amphibious assault ship:
A type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault.
The combat-capable part of a military organization.
The adaptability of any force's force structure is usually tested in wartime to reflect changing nature of warfare.