Under the Radar

Do We Still Need Aircraft Carriers? 'Carriers at War' Says Yes!

F-18 lands on flight deck runway. (Smithsonian Channel)

Aircraft carriers are huge, expensive, awesome and controversial. The Smithsonian Channel takes on the debate in "Carriers at War," a new four-part documentary series that premieres  Sunday, May 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

The program follows America’s elite fleet of mighty aircraft carriers as they engage in real-world action – giving viewers an intimate look at how the U.S. Navy maintains, operates and deploys to troubled spots around the globe

Check out highlights from the first two episodes below.

"Strike Force Arabian Gulf" (Episode One) showcases the role the U.S. Navy plays in maintaining stability in the Middle East region.

The CIWS is the affectionate nickname given to a 20mm Vulcan Cannon on board the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier. It fires 4,500 rounds a minute, can hit a target five miles away and has bullets that are twice the normal size.

Landing on an aircraft carrier's 300-feet runway seems like an impossible task. To slow down the landing plane, a series of arresting wires catch the jet's wheels and help bring it to a stop

"Ready to Launch" (Episode Two) provides a comprehensive portrait of the crew members of the USS George H.W. Bush to capture what it takes to successfully operate an aircraft carrier at sea. This one premieres Sunday, May 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

As the USS George H.W. Bush sails within the Arabian Gulf, the ordinance team assembles an array of bombs that will be used for strike missions against ISIS.

From getting sucked into a fighter jet engine to a misjudged landing by an approaching jet fighter, an active flight deck is a minefield of danger and accidents waiting to happen.

Coming soon, we'll have a comprehensive interview with Bryan McGrath, a Navy veteran and former Commanding Officer of the USS Bulkeley. McGrath now works as a consultant on naval and national security issues and he's one of the key commentators in Episode 4, a fascinating look at the new $14 billion USS Gerald R. Ford. 

Show Full Article