From the Archives: the Crisis in Naval Aviation

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As the U.S. Navy wrestles with $11 billion in sequestration cuts this fiscal year, here's a bit of déjà vu for you.

"Naval aviation is currently facing one of the worst crises in its long history."

One would be mistaken in thinking that this statement was published in the current edition of the latest magazine. Instead, it is the beginning of an article published exactly 64 years ago on July 11, 1949, in Aviation Week & Space Technology.

Then, the Navy was dealt a blow with the cancellation of the 65,000-ton next-generation USS United States (CVA-58). Construction of the carrier would have cost some $189 million at the time. 

Fast-forward 64 years and the modern-day supercarrier CVN-78, already $2.5 billion over its original budget, has its own political challenges. "I don't think some of us would have voted for it if we had known" about the rising costs, said Republican Sen. John McCain, a former naval aviator. 

In the 1949 analysis, cuts in research and development funding for naval aviation, to the tune of $36 million, were labeled "another mortgage on the future of naval aviation," and the naval policy of then-Defense Secretary Louis Johnson was scrutinized.

Focusing on the future, the 1949 analysis states that "naval aviation cannot take many more defeats such as it has suffered during the past two years and remain an effective and integral part of the defense structure."

Click here to read a scan of the original article.

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