Monday, February 6

After nearly two decades of development, America’s most expensive and ambitious aircraft carrier is ready for action


Four years later than planned, the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is ready for action. The ship received the necessary approval to begin its initial operations last year, but, as reported by Defense One, the United States Navy decided to cautiously communicate it this week.

The decision to keep the operational capability of the USS Gerald R. Ford secret for several months is somewhat surprising, mainly because of the magnitude of this project. The aircraft carrier, the largest ever built, incorporates twenty new technologies and is the first of a generation that could replace the current Nimitz-class carriers.

However, in light of reality, like other US defense developments, such as the Lockheed Martin F35 fighter plane, it has suffered several delays and cost overruns. The military vessel took 17 years to complete and, according to Congress, it cost just over 13 billion dollarsalmost 30% more than originally estimated.

USS Gerald R. Ford, ready for action

The USS Gerald R. Ford now has an Initial Operating Capability (IOC). This is a status commonly designated to new defense systems and a step prior to full operational capability (FOC), which she is expected to achieve this fall, when she makes her first deployment within the United States.

But the IOC status is very important. now the navy can operate and maintain the USS Gerald R. Ford. With this capability, testing, training, and adjustments will continue as necessary to optimize the performance of the new systems and ensure their safety to reach the FOC.

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It should be noted that the most arduous tests for the new aircraft carrier have already been carried out in 2021. For example, last year explosives were used with live ammunition and data was collected that allowed validating its shock capacity and maintaining operations in a combat environment. simulated under extreme conditions.

Biggest improvement since the sixties

USS Gerald R. Ford is the first ship in a class to offer significant improvements over the current Nimitz-class. Among the novelties is a multifunction active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, new aircraft arresting equipment and new weapons elevators.

US Aircraft Carrier Uss Gerald R Ford 2 Copy

In addition, a modern electromagnetic launch system is incorporated, which promises to say goodbye to the classic catapults. This upgrade eliminates the huge deck work area required by older steam piston systems and promises to perform 25% more launches per day than the Nimitz class.

US Aircraft Carrier Uss Gerald R Ford 1

According to the Navy, to achieve flight deck certification, the carrier conducted more than 400 day and night catapult launches and booby trap recoveries, which concluded on March 29. The system worked as expected, allowing progress towards the ship’s first official deployment.

The improvements also reached the propulsion system. The aircraft carrier incorporate a new Bechtel A1B nuclear reactorwhich has higher power capacity, is smaller, easier to operate, and requires fewer personnel than the Nimitz’s A4W reactor.

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While America’s aircraft carriers have seen many improvements over the years, the USS Gerald R. Ford is the first ship to make substantial advances since the 1960s. CVN 78, the first of a total of ten planned, replaces USS Enterprise (CVN 65), which entered service in 1961 and was decommissioned in 2017.

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Images | United States Navy

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