It's both amusing and fascinating to read articles and discussions about a perceived "fighter gap" or "fighter shortage" of the U.S.Navy that might leave the navy unable to fill up all its aircraft carriers with fighters in several years.
I've seen an estimated 20 texts about the topic so far - all with the same direction: The navy needs more combat aircraft.
That's a bit strange because the navy has more than just one option for matching carrier quantity and aircraft quantity:
(1) increase aircraft quantity to a match
(2) reduce carrier quantity to a match
(3) change air wing composition
(4) increase both to a match
(5) decrease both to a match
The observed discussions about the issue were all about option (1) for reasons that would likely not work anywhere else.
Option (1) isn't the most obvious one, though. I would personally rather tend towards (5) and (2) would be a sensible choice as well.
That carrier fleet isn't really about "defense", after all. It's about power projection - about "offense", especially about "offense" against poor and small countries that cannot defend themselves effectively against such attacks.
There's almost no way how one could rationally assume that the immense costs can be justified with anything else than defence or national political median preference*.
I guess the latter is what really counts.
*: Preferences cannot be discussed in cost/effectiveness terms. Preferences are the source information for cost effectiveness considerations; they define the relative value of things.
edit for clarification: This wasn't about carriers. I was appalled by the lack of thought and writing about other options than primitive "more, more, more!". The bizarre comments of other authors about the topic even assert that there was a "gap". "Gaps" were in the past perceived gaps between the own and potential adversary capabilities (and quite often more fiction than reality). This time the "gap" discussion is both unrelated to potential adversaries and unrelated to actual defence.
The USN's inventory and orders for Super Hornets and Growlers would suffice to keep the #1 air power status for the U.S. even if there was not a single USAF or USMC combat aircraft. That doesn't even consider the fact that most of the top 20 military and air powers of the world are allied with the U.S..
The talk about a "fighter gap" is completely detached from reality, delusional!.