Hypersonic missile won't change the situation.
They will certainly change the way carriers and other large ships are deployed and used... but no matter what the threat having aircraft and air borne radar helping you defend your ground or ship based IADS is always better than just ground or ship based IADS alone.
The choice was which one to invest in. Billions on EMALS or Billions on advanced valving, what would you do?
Easy...EMALS... the new technology will be much more valuable... besides most Soviet cities are steam heated... they already use that technology anyway.... they have just not applied it to launching aircraft.
The new materials and magnets and EM and plasma research as well as new ways of storing and moving vast amounts of electricity on board a ship will be vastly more valuable across their range of large vessels that could also benefit from being all electric too... not to mention trains and buses and trucks and cars and motorbikes and armour.
The replacement for the T-14 is going to have a 3,000hp gas turbine engine... which means it is going to be an electric drive vehicle likely with an electrically powered main gun too.
It is the direction many things are going...
It was not a leap into the dark. They worked on linear motors for a very long time, including working on the EM gun for Zumwalt class. (which was never deployed)
The gun designed for the Zumwalt was as dumb as the gun designed for the Sheridan tank.... they wanted a super long range gun and what they ended up with... in both cases... was a funny calibre gun that no other platform uses.... which means unique ammo which is never a good thing in terms of cost. The ammo they designed is too expensive and probably wont do the job they want it to... in fact missiles like TOW in the case of the Sheridan and Tomahawk in the case of the naval gun appear on paper to be less effective but in actual fact are in service and can actually do a better job now than these new super guns could potentially do when their problems are sorted out.
In comparison with the Shillelagh missile, a 152mm anti tank guided missile, whose guns other viable round was a huge HE round that could only be described as a demolition round and was totally unrelated to any gun round in the US military. The missile never worked. It was enormously expensive and highly complex and it never worked. They took it to combat several times... even made a version of the M60 tank to carry the stupid gun and while it went into combat several times there is no record of it being fired successfully let alone any confirmed or even possible kills. On paper it was amazing... in practise it was an enormously expensive lesson that a much slower missile like TOW is a fraction of the cost and a reliable weapon that usually gets the job done.
In comparison, the Soviets designed a tank barrel launched missile, but they didn't want to make some sort of missile super tank... they wanted a guided round that could compensate for moving targets at long range to keep the high probability high against long range moving targets.
The missiles fitted the standard tank calibres used at the time and they made families of missiles... one for the rifled 100mm gun of the T-54 and T-55, a similar missile for the 100mm smoothbore towed MT-12 anti tank gun, and another version for the 100mm rifled low pressure gun for the BMP-3, and finally a modified version for the 115mm smoothbore gun of the T-62. They also made several 125mm and now 152mm calibre missiles for larger calibre tank guns.
The missiles were never intended to be standard ammo... usually the weapon load included from 4 to 8 missiles with the most common load out being 6 missiles.
The first missiles were not amazing, but they certainly got better and now can be used against helicopters as well as tanks.
The point is that there is a right way and a wrong way to make weapons and for a weapon that is supposed to be cheap it needs to be a standard already in use calibre and what they should have done was what the Russians did and have a joint Army Navy programme to create long range ammo and guns together... it shares the costs and the results can be shared too increasing production runs of guns and ammo which should also reduce their costs as well.
The ability of the weak to fight back in getting greater and greater. With hypersonics that would increase even more. China or Russia can provide a small number of planes and hypersonics which would instantly make that country very high risk to bully.
The US is already very careful as to whom it bullies and how, but having a few hypersonic missiles wont make the US impotent... if Iran got Zircon and sank a US carrier I would think the US would be seriously thinking about nuking one of their cities, or at least bombing the crap out of as many government and military targets as it could...
Who kept building big battleships after WWII? The sinking of Yamato and Mushashi showed they were sitting ducks even with the primitive air weapons on WWII
The Kirov class are huge... but only 25K ton because they don't have heavy belt armour... Japanese aircraft carriers were also sitting ducks... yet in the same war the US aircraft carrier were not... perhaps it had more to do with tactics and the situation on the ground.
I don't think Germany having five full sized operational aircraft carriers would have matter much in the slightest as to how long they lasted in the war, but German forces operating away from German airpower would have been much more powerful and effective with its own organic air power.
The Arctic convoys were attacked by subs and ships but were most vulnerable to air power... from which they couldn't run away...
It was air power that defeated the Battleships... the US had their own big battleships but they used air power to take down the Japanese battleships because Battleships struggle to fight planes.
They still do... which is why it is a good idea to have some.
Not thousands... they don't need 10 CVNs.... as I keep pointing out 2 new CVNs over the next 20 odd years would be fine together with an upgraded Kuznetsov...
Would you rather be in a lone Tiger tank or part of a squad of 5 T-34s?
Which model T-34s? Most of the time those T-34s were given general orders but didn't have the leadership or command or the radios to work together as a team.
A late war T-34/85 with radios and crews who knew what they were doing would murder a Tiger... earlier tank crews not so much... but then there were rarely that many Tiger tanks around compared with the number of T-34s anyway.
Airstrips cannot sink, but they are hard to defend. They can be quickly repaired, carriers not so much. One hit and its 5 years in the dock
The old Kuznetsov has better air defence than any airfield in the US... even the big ones... and I would think the air defence of the US carriers is currently even better because they have more big ships. Individually they don't have anything like Kashtan and Naval TOR, but they make up for that by having lots of AEGIS class cruisers and AWACS aircraft and lots and lots of fighter planes and bases around the world.
I would agree lasers are the most promising but they will not have to be big. If they can put a powerful laser in a 747, imagine what they can put on a frigate.
A frigate would be a waste... you would need it to operate with your carrier groups to protect your carriers and the big expensive ships that operate with them... a Frigate would not have the endurance to keep operating with them around the world.
A Cruiser or the carrier itself will be there and has much more space.... plus for power supply you need nuclear propulsion systems and a carrier with EMALS systems will have the capacity to fire off multiple bursts of laser energy at targets as needed... laser technology is always going to be changing so start with a big space and a big power source... it might get much smaller over time... that is fine... it will never need a smaller power source and taking up less room means other things can be added...
What role would the carrier play if hypersonics are flying around and lasers shooting them down? Bait?
Airborne radar is still the best way to detect low flying threats at maximum distance... and having a radar on the back of a plane 6-8 metres or bigger in diameter is still the best way to detect very small targets flying low and fast or not so fast...
Having the ability to launch Su-57s to fly at mach 1.5+ in any direction out to perhaps 1,500km and launch air to air or air to surface missiles against air or surface targets while remaining relatively stealthy is a useful thing... the excellent radar and optical systems means it can fly out and check out things that would otherwise just be a blip on a radar. Getting information about a target is valuable and will help the surface action group commander make better decisions because they will be informed decisions.
When Israeli planes attacked a US spy ship they pretended to misidentify as an Egyptian ship and were laying into it with cannon and torpedoes launched from aircraft and small boats... they didn't notice the old stars and stripes till they intercepted a call from a nearby US carrier informing the ship that F-14s were inbound.
Why not just have an arsneal ship loaded with cruise missiles and drones for recon, protected by lasers?
An arsenal ship is something the west would use the next time they invade a country.... most of the time a Russian carrier group will have both Kirovs and probably a Slava class ship with it, and depending on the date a couple of updated destroyers and perhaps a new destroyer or two... and probably two carriers if they can spare them... it is not like they need to keep one in each ocean protecting the world or anything... the K and one CVN.
With that sort of force why would they need an arsenal ship? Their old missiles were huge but capable... their new missiles are much smaller and also much more capable and that is cruise missiles and anti ship missiles and anti sub weapons as well as SAMs. The Kuznetsov had 192 naval TOR type missiles of an old design... the current models are half the size and with better range and performance... so even with no actual changes just fitting twice as many missiles means 384 TOR missiles ready to fire... and it is actually better than that because the old Klintok system had a rotary launcher so for each missile launch hatch there was a twelve missile rotary magazine below deck. In the space you could put one rotary launcher with 12 missiles around it you could probably fit five or 6 bins of 4 missiles... 20-24 missiles in the same space and these new missiles are half the size which means doubling and doubling again with simple cell launchers with the new smaller missiles.... The original 192 missiles is effectively the contents of 24 TOR launchers from the 1980s with 8 missiles in each vehicle ready to fire, so doubling them with the new fixed honeycomb cell launchers means 48 old TOR launchers or 384 missiles... but 48 new TOR launchers that use smaller missiles with longer range, higher speed, and greater ceiling and also more accurate actually carry 16 missiles per vehicle so that would be 48 x 16 which 768 missiles all ready to fire. Now to be fair unlike 48 new TOR vehicles each has tracking radar and search radar and each vehicle can guide 8 missiles to intercept four targets at a time, so essentially 192 targets could be engaged at once with 384 missiles if there were actually 48 vehicles protecting this airfield... but there aren't
The four naval TOR guidance mounts surround the island... so it can engage 16 targets at once with 32 missiles in control to engage those 16 targets if needed.... The new missiles they normally just launch one missile per target because accuracy has improved to the point where fewer missiles are needed. (Keep in mind these are last line of defence missiles so they will use two missiles instead of one to make sure the target is destroyed... the cost of an extra missile is nothing compared with letting a target through and having the S-400 or S-300V battery damaged.
It also has 6 AK-630 single six barrel gatling gun turrets mounted and of course 8 Kashtan mounts with a total of 16 6 barrel 30mm gatling guns and 256 Pantsir type SAMs with 64 ready to launch and the rest in under turret magazines for reload...
So even before any upgrade it was a fairly well protected airfield... it also had fighter aircraft to defend it too of course, and upgraded systems offer even better performance.
If you consider a large carrier is 3-5B imagine how many of these you could buy and how many cruise missiles they can deploy. It will be like a massive Stalins Organ firing cruise missiles.
An Arsenal ship really only is any use if you want to attack something and relies on other platforms to find and identify targets... it is more about boosting available fire power that making a fleet more capable. With such underarmed vessels as we see in most HATO surface fleets I can see why they would want them, but an Arsenal ship stops being cheap when you fill it up and it will always be a bit fragile not being an actual warship and more akin to a container ship really.
PS - the US deals with the airstrip issue by subsidizing a massive civil aviation sector, with GA airports all over the place. Russia deals with it by making their planes able to deal with more primitive airstrips, so they can quickly ready new airstrips if needed.
The Russian method makes their aircraft tougher and more useful on strips of motorway which are becoming much more common in Russia over time...
But airfields are still both useful and vulnerable. There is no such thing as safe in war. It is silly to think otherwise.