A carriers worth of frigates and destroyers will not add any of the capabilities that make carriers useful
Absolutely true GarryB : if your opponent has no mean to render any of your carriers ,with its whole air wing, a single multibillionaire target , the capabilities to project military power offered by CVBG are perfect.
And that is exactly the reason for which US strategists have mantained a similar force structure for theirs Navy : MAD element
during the whole Cold War had effectively rendered the fraility of carriers a factor totally ininfluent
against the only enemy with the required technological level to capitalize it ,while the capabilities offered by the carrier Air Wings against "small player" in bringing sustained military force on any spot of the planet was simply unreplaceable with different fleet's unit composition.
Having a carrier means AEW aircraft can fly hundreds of kms from any surface vessels at very high altitudes and scan for threats without giving away the precise location of the carrier.
Is best to reason in terms of number of units and figures for ranges in those instances ,otherwise similar hypothesis begin to detach very quickly and dangerously from reality.
A Nimitz class has ....at best.... 4 air-worthy E-2 at anytime
, this mean that....at best....2 of them could be used contemporaneously for area reconnaisance missions
(and naturally at this rate several hours at day will be totally devoid of airborne sensor coverage !!).
Now we must try to give a number for the "fly hundreds of kms from any surface vessels" and a vector of separation from fleet position ,taking into account that
1) The more those 2 E-2s move away from fleet the more widen the gap angular projection
,from fleet's actual position, not covered by theirs sensor footprint.
2) The more those 2 E-2s move away from fleet the more will shorten theirs persistence time on the selected area
(increasing hours/day not covered by airborne sensors at all).
3) The more those 2 E-2s move away from fleet the less defensive coverage them will get from carrier tactical air wing .
(becoming targets even more trivial for any aircraft escorting enemy strike group ...for not say theose armed with modern LRAM )
4) The more those 2 E-2s move away from fleet the more time them will require to return under "Aegis" protective umbrella if an engaging enemy squadron is detected.
How anyone can easily realize, at worsen furtherly the picture, none of those relations are linear....
Now some easy exemplificative numbers for scrambling aircraft and interception of a Cold War menace, at 10000 m of altitude (TPS) an aircraft traveling at an average speed of Mach 1 cover almost 17,6 km at minute
; therefore this aircraft, mantaining constant this speed of Mach 1 for 20 minutes
,will reach a point about 350 km far
and could enage a no receding target at this moment placed at about 400 km with an AIM-120C5 (420-430 with C7).
Naturally we must add to that also the time necessary for the crew
(alerted by the Air Wing command ,receiving and processing ,at its own time, the data coming from the E-2) to man the scrambling aircraft
,the time for preparation of the aircraft for the take-off
and the time to reach the speed of Mach 1 and 10000 m of altitude
The only role ,at this point, that could play carrier air wing in this situation (and that could prevent an entire multi-bilionaire air wing, to be entirely lost witht the sinking of a single mulit-billionaire ship.
will be the prevention that enemy bombers squadrons will delivery theirs missile cargo -obviously highly concentrated on this single immnensely "paying target"-.
Cold war era Kh-22M
has an effective engagement range ,when delivered at high altitude by supersonic TU-22M3, greater than 550 km
.From the first second of detection
..if any detection ever happen (several vectors of enemy attack and sensor assets moving far from the central area to protect are concepts which don't stand well toghter) the only factor that could transform the presence of a carrier in a resource instead of a liability, would be.....to have AAMs hitting ,in useful time, those supersonic TU-22M3 at.... 560-570 km of distance from the carrier
I image that my previous "near to zero" can appear now even a bit optimistic.
The CAP is part of AEGIS and represents a major part of its data collection (AWACS) and its interception performance
"Aegis" can receive informations by external assets
(land/sea/air/space based) but none of them is a part of Aegis Combat System
ACS is designed to opearate totally authonomously in a very precise and compartmentalized way, founded on the basis of well defined ellipse of integrated systems
the two focus of which are AN/SPY-1 radar
and SM-3 missile
but I think you will agree that an army fighting under an enemy controlled sky is going to get badly mauled in this day and age.
GarryB how one of the most important Soviet conceiver of the capablity degradation theory said :
"On this planet ,at today,don't exist airborne targets ,but only momentarily flying ground ones"
Until a war against a very strong enemy nation will happen (and this could be a very dangerous sistuation for the entire world) those words will not appear very clear ; probably by then somoeone could realize why longe range missiles are highly limited in weapon control treaty while tactical aircraft are not....