And the winner is...
Aircraft Carriers vs. China's Missiles: The Military Contest of Our Time
As someone from Capitol Hill recently pointed out to me, much of the discussion about UCAVs is purely theoretical because realistically, in 2030, the only stealth aircraft on the flight deck will be the Lockheed Martin F-35C—there simply isn’t enough time or money to field anything else.
The U.S. Navy’s carrier fleet is increasingly challenged in the Western Pacific as China continues its efforts develop anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Some of those systems include the infamous DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile and Xian H-6K bomber armed with advanced air launched cruise missiles.
(This first appeared in late 2015.)
Many here in Washington believe that the solution to the problem is to increase the range of the carrier air wing so that the ship could standoff 1200 nautical miles offshore. That distance would allow the carrier to remain outside the range of Chinese A2/AD systems. The Navy would accomplish that task by developing a new class of unmanned long-range broadband all-aspect stealth aircraft that could penetrate even the most dense air defenses.