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The US Navy's Gerald R. Ford Class Aircraft Carriers (updates)"

CougarKing

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Senator McCain eyeing getting rid of the Ford class carriers before they even get completed?

Washington Post

Why John McCain called this $13 billion aircraft carrier a “spectacular” debacle

As the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier enters the annals of troubled acquisition programs—billions over budget, years behind schedule—it follows a familiar script, becoming yet another example of how the Pentagon struggles with buying major weapons systems.

The Navy’s program has become “one of the most spectacular acquisition debacles in recent memory. And that is saying something,” McCain (R-Ariz.) said during a Senate hearing on the troubled program Thursday.

But one thing stands out about the Ford-class carrier program that separates it from other flawed Pentagon acquisitions: the fact that Congress’ watchdog predicted many of the exact failures now plaguing the program almost a decade ago.

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Reuters

Senators blast cost increases on U.S. Navy aircraft carrier
Reuters By Idrees Ali
13 hours ago

Washington (Reuters) - Senator John McCain on Thursday said huge cost overruns on a new class of aircraft carriers built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc made it "one of the most spectacular acquisition debacles" in recent years, and the Navy needed different options for the future.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of three new nuclear-powered, city-sized aircraft carriers, is expected to cost $12.9 billion, or $2.4 billion more than originally expected, McCain told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee he chairs. The second ship, the USS John F. Kennedy, is $2.5 billion over budget at $11.5 billion, and five years behind schedule.

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CougarKing

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Update: commissioning of the first ship in the class will be this summer!

Market Watch

Opinion: The U.S. Navy’s new $13 billion aircraft carrier will dominate the seas

Published: Mar 12, 2016 11:00 a.m. ET

By Jurica Dujmovic
Columnist

(Updates story to say the ship will be commissioned in summer.)

A $13 billion U.S. aircraft carrier is about to hit the open seas.

It’s the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), the most expensive and most advanced warship ever built. The ship was christened in November 2013 and is scheduled to be commissioned this summer, said Lieutenant Jesus Uranga of the Navy Office of Information. It had been slated to be commissioned this month.

The Naval behemoth can house more than 4,500 people and weighs 90,000 tons. The CVN-78 is the lead ship in the Ford class of aircraft carriers, replacing some of the U.S. Navy’s existing Nimitz-class carriers. At first glance, both classes have a similar-looking hull, but the Ford class introduces a series of technical innovations designed to improve carrier’s operating efficiency, and reduce operating costs and crew requirements.

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CougarKing

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Some members of Congress will not be happy at this:

National Interest

USS Barack Obama: Building a Future Aircraft Carrier


Should the U.S. Navy name a future Ford-class carrier after President Barack Obama?

Since the 1990s, most of America’s aircraft carriers have been named after U.S. presidents, save for the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74). Thus far, out of the planned ten-carrier Ford-class, the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) are named after presidents, but CVN-80 will follow the long tradition of using the name Enterprise. The next carrier after Enterprise, CVN-81, will likely be revert to the convention of naming carriers after presidents. Indeed, there is a case to be made for naming the ship USS Barack Obama.

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Ultimately, there are a variety of factors that go into ship names—but politics clearly play a prominent role. Given the current trend line—three Republican-named carriers in a row, then one Democrat-named carrier—perhaps the U.S. Navy can look forward to not only a USS Barack Obama but also a USS William Jefferson Clinton.
 

tomahawk6

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Usually a ship is named after someone who is deceased,not one who is still living.
 

Journeyman

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tomahawk6 said:
Usually a ship is named after someone who is deceased, not one who is still living.
If that's what it takes....  :clubinhand:

      ;D
 

Baz

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tomahawk6 said:
Usually a ship is named after someone who is deceased,not one who is still living.

Umm... USS George H.W. Bush


 

Rifleman62

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USS Barack Obama: What's the point? No aircraft will be able to land or takeoff as the deck will all be solar panels needed to move the ship for 15 day deployments. No weapons will be carried but there will be a line gun for red lines to be shot across the waves.

A small crew will be augmented by thousands of Regulators with EPA and IRS being predominant. The threat of the USS Barack Obama as a projection of American military power will be its ability to end "wars" by Presidential Decree.

 

Loachman

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The onboard health care system would likely suck as well.

I'd rather see one named after Jimmy Carter than Obama or Clinton. At least his intentions were pure, and he helped get that nice Mr Reagan elected.
 

CougarKing

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Precision Aircraft Landing System (PALS) Tested on Ford-class Aircraft Carrier at HII Shipyard

Source: navy recognition - 19 August 2016

PALS_test_USS_Gerald_Ford_CVN_78_HII.jpg

A special instrumented F-18 Super Hornet flew within about 500 feet of Gerald R. Ford 10 times during the testing, which verifies the proper functionality, alignment and operation of the PALS equipment and its subsystems. Photo by HII
 

Journeyman

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Updated assessment

A lengthy article, from the Project on Government Oversight.*

My edited highlights:
How Not to Build a Ship: The USS Ford
By: Dan Grazier & Pierre Sprey | May 30, 2017

The Navy had expected to have the ship delivered in 2014 at a cost of $10.5 billion. The inevitable problems resulting from the concurrently bulding a ship and  developing new & unproven technologies -- more than a dozen in all -- caused the schedule to slip by more than three years and the cost to increase to $12.9 billion—nearly 25 percent over budget. (That's without aircraft; assuming a complement of at least 50 F-35Cs, with each aircraft having a conservative real cost of $185 million…for a total of $9.25 billion worth of strike aircraft concentrated on one ship. That means this one ship when underway will be worth at least $22.25 billion, to say nothing of the 4,297 sailors on board. That is putting a great deal of proverbial eggs in a single basket).

The Electromagnetic Launch System (EMALS) has a poor reliability track record, failing about once every 400 launches (ten times worse than the 4,166 launches between failures the system is contracted to achieve). At least four days of surge combat sortie rates are to be expected at the beginning of any major conflict. At the current failure rate, there is only a 7 percent chance that a four-day flight surge could be completed without failure.  There are four EMALS, but no maintenance can be conducted if any one is operating (unlike the current steam catapults).  Oh, they also overstress F/A-18 airframes.

Replacing hydraulic arresting gear system with the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).... the original 2005 $172M estimate for AAG development is now well over $1.3 billion -- a 656 percent increase. For that, the latest reliability results show only 25 landings between operational mission failures of the AAG, 660 times fewer than the Navy’s requirement of 16,500. Also, exactly like the EMALS, it is impossible to repair AAG failures without shutting down flight operations: the AAG power supply can’t be disconnected from the high-voltage supply while flights continue.

General Atomics, the company contracted to design and build both the EMALS and AAG.... has never built catapult launch systems or carrier arresting gear.

To feed these massive electrical demands and the ship’s expanded electronics, the Ford’s four generators were designed to provide triple the total electrical power provided by the eight generators on the Nimitz class—13,800 versus 4,160 volts. Along with increased electrical arcing and failure rates, particularly in humid salt atmospheres, they are much more fragile than legacy systems, making the ship easier to cripple in battle. Repairing damage to these systems often requires them to be powered down, impacting other systems that didn’t sustain damage.

There's much more in the article, including a consideration of CVNs vs anti-ship missiles and/or SSKs.


And for more face-palm, have a look at the US Govt Accountability Office's "FORD-CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIER: Congress Should Consider Revising Cost Cap Legislation to Include All Construction Costs, (2014)" to see how development & construction costs are being hidden. The $ numbers above are likely underreported.  Link

* The Project on Government Oversight expands on the work of the Center for Defense Information (CDI) in advancing military reform in the Pentagon and Congress. CDI was founded in 1971 by a group of retired military officers to analyze military matters, inform decision-makers and the public, and influence policy. It takes no money from defense contractors or the government, and it publishes fact-based research and policy advice that attempted to put basic national security needs front and center. It is led by conscientious military officers—retired generals, admirals, colonels, majors, captains— challenging ill-informed conventional wisdom and self-interested defense contractor disinformation rather than promoting either.
 

Loachman

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There's at least one Irving joke in there somewhere.
 

Kirkhill

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And more of the same....

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-15/new-u-s-carrier-hobbled-by-flaws-in-launching-landing-planes

"The $13 Billion Aircraft Carrier That Has Trouble With Planes"

What would it take to haul the Nimitz drawings out and put a pause on the Fords for a decade or so?
 

MarkOttawa

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Carriers' increasing vulnerability? Strike aircraft range problems:

How America’s Aircraft Carriers Could Become Obsolete
Modern missiles make them vulnerable. A $13 billion price tag makes them expensive. New technology may make them unnecessary.

President Donald Trump has been consistent in his argument that the U.S. Navy has shrunk to a woefully inadequate size. The Republican has repeatedly said he wants the service to expand, including a fleet of a dozen aircraft carriers. That plan isn’t in the Pentagon’s current budget, but on July 22 the Navy will formally commission CVN-78, the USS Gerald R. Ford, its newest, most sophisticated nuclear-powered carrier.

The Ford, hit with delays and technical glitches, is expected to become operational in 2020. One question about its formal readiness, however, rests on whether the Navy will perform “full-ship shock trials,” a test in which the service detonates explosives nearby to demonstrate its fitness. Some in Congress—which has mandated a carrier fleet no smaller than 11—want to move the Ford into duty more quickly to reduce strain on the rest of the carrier fleet.

These massive mobile airports, which can cart as many as 90 aircraft simultaneously, are designed to project U.S. military and diplomatic power around the world. Earlier this month, for example, the Navy posted two carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, and their strike groups in the Sea of Japan for joint exercises with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force as a precautionary signal to North Korean aggression.

The USS Gerald Ford is the first of four planned Ford-class carriers, the Navy’s first new carrier design in 42 years, although only three of them have names and funding. A shock trial would be deferred until the second carrier, CVN-79, the USS John F. Kennedy, arrives in 2020, according to defense funding language being pushed in the House seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

... Is the aircraft carrier defensible, both physically and in budgetary terms? For the Navy, the future role of its carrier fleet is a critical issue. Do these vessels retain their central role in U.S. foreign power, or will Congress and military leaders find more appealing ways to deploy the immense budgets a carrier group requires?..

When it comes to carrier deployments, the most immediate concern is the security of the more than 7,000 crew members who travel with a carrier strike group, an armada formulated to protect the ship and its aircraft as well as to serve as “a principal element of U.S. power projection capability,” as the Navy terms it.

But this formation is likely to face greater risks due to new missile technology in the coming years. China and Russia are both perfecting more sophisticated missile designs, and both are believed to be developing hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs), weapons that travel faster than Mach 5, according to a Pentagon report obtained by Bloomberg News.

China already fields a ballistic missile, the Dong Feng-21D, which has been dubbed a “carrier killer” due to its 900-mile range and lethality. Over time, these types of weapons are likely to keep U.S. carriers farther from shore, which will require greater refueling capabilities for their aircraft complements.

For several years, the Pentagon has “admired the problem” of how long-range enemy missiles affect its carrier fleet but has avoided tough decisions about how to increase the fleets’ aircraft range and provide for more unmanned aircraft, said Paul Scharre, senior fellow and director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a nonprofit think tank. Meanwhile, the Navy’s strike range from its carrier wings has actually dipped by 50 percent, below 500 miles [emphasis added], according to Jerry Hendrix, another CNAS analyst...

More spending for unmanned platforms, from electronics jamming to surveillance and reconnaissance, would give pilots in F/A-18s as well as the newer F-35Cs more range and effectiveness. But because the Pentagon hasn’t developed unmanned platforms, “naval aviators ... are accepting a world where the carrier has less relevance in higher-end fights, against high-end adversaries,” Scharre said.

One example of the Navy’s muddled view on range, says Scharre, is the MQ-25 Stingray, an unmanned aerial refueling tanker, that’s considered a critical aspect of future carrier operations. The Stingray may be deployed as early as 2019 on two carriers. Yet the Navy hasn’t specified whether the MQ-25’s precise role would be as a mission tanker to accompany fighters on combat strikes, or merely as a recovery tanker loitering near carriers for pilots who miss approaches and are low on fuel, Scharre said...
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-06-28/how-america-s-aircraft-carriers-could-become-obsolete

Mark
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MarkOttawa said:
Carriers' increasing vulnerability? Strike aircraft range problems:

"Modern missiles make them everything vulnerable", nyet?
 

MarkOttawa

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True, USN losing a carrier (loss of lives?) would be a disaster like none other since WW II.  Even disabling one out of combat would be huge operational and prestige blow.

Mark
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Loachman

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There being far more nuclear warheads on each side than airfields, ICBM silos, submarine bases, and political centres, etcetera, what difference does a carrier or a dozen make?

Superiority and inferiority of various weapons and systems ebb and flow - measure, counter-measure, counter-counter-measure...

Carriers are big, with massive electrical generating capacity. They'll be the first to mount laser weapons.
 

MarkOttawa

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Trump has some justification for his frustration with these carriers:

Concerned Over Delays, Navy Dispatches Commercial Industry Team To Fix Ford Carrier
The Navy's new $13 billion carrier has run into trouble, and the Navy has called in some outside help.

Increasingly concerned over technological problems plaguing its new $13 billion nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Navy has dispatched a unique team of civilian and government experts to the USS Gerald R. Ford in a new attempt to understand what is happening.

The experts, pulled from outside the defense industry in order to provide a fresh perspective, were selected for their expertise in working with complex electromagnetic systems, a technology that has proved daunting for the Navy and shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls at its Newport News Shipbuilding facilities in Virginia.

The team, which Navy officials have declined to identify, started work last month on getting the ship’s 11 electromagnetic weapons elevators up and running, a task that the Secretary of the Navy has already staked his job on, telling President Trump he can fire him if they’re not in working order.

Currently, only two of the ship’s new weapons elevators are operational, meaning sailors are unable to quickly move munitions from belowdecks to aircraft ready to take off.

“We have a full court press on the advanced weapons elevators,” said James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for acquisition in a statement. “We’ve gathered a team of experts on the carrier right now, which will work with the shipbuilder to get Ford’s weapons elevators completed in the most efficient timeline possible.” Significantly, Geurts said, the team “will also recommend new design changes that can improve elevator activities for the rest of the Ford class.” The group, the Navy said, has worked in electromagnetic systems, fabrication and production control, software, systems integration, and electrical engineering in the commercial sector.

The admission of serious design flaws with one of the carrier’s most vaunted new technologies is another acquisition and maintenance-related black eye for the Navy, which is struggling to get ships through routine repair availabilities, and has seen critical flaws pop up in the missile tubes aboard its next-generation Columbia-class nuclear submarines...

Earlier this year, the Navy announced it was pushing back the schedule for getting the Ford to sea for its next round of trials, moving the tests from July to October, due to a number of issues, including the elevators.

The schedule slip has put Navy Secretary Richard Spencer in an awkward position, as he previously related he told President Trump, “I asked him to stick his hand out; he stuck his hand out. I said, let’s do this like corporate America. I shook his hand and said, the elevators will be ready to go when she pulls out or you can fire me
[emphasis added].”..

Ford2-768x512.jpg

https://breakingdefense.com/2019/07/concerned-over-delays-navy-dispatches-commercial-industry-team-to-fix-ford-carrier/

Mark
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MarkOttawa

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Nominee for new US Navy CNO (a three-star jumped over several four-stars) gets heat from Senators at confirmation hearing--note mention of Arctic, North Atlantic, relevant for RCN/CCG):

Inhofe: Navy ‘Arrogance’ On USS Ford ‘Oughta Be Criminal’
Presumptive CNO Vice Adm. Mike Gilday is forced to answer for years of Navy problems.

The head of the Senate Armed Service Committee today charged Navy leadership with “a level of arrogance” in dealing with the failures of its new $13 billion USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, saying the lack of planning for key new technologies that have struggled to perform “oughta be criminal.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe’s comments came during the nomination hearing for the next Chief of Naval Operations, Vice Adm. Mike Gilday, who was on the spot to answer for years of maintenance delays, modernization stumbles, and the struggle to grow to a 355-ship fleet in a two-hour hearing.

The hearing — generally friendlier than that might make it seem at first glance  — presented the image of a service struggling to modernize at a critical time as commitments mount in the Pacific, Arctic [emphasis added], and North Atlantic [Russkie subs with SLCMs], as China churns out new warships at a rate unmatched anywhere else on the globe.

Inhofe assured Gilday he realized the admiral isn’t responsible for any of these issues, but kicked off the proceedings with pointed questions about the Ford, along with a litany of issues plaguing the Navy.

The Navy is both under-manned and its hulls under-maintained, with close to 70 percent of ships unable to get through maintenance availabilities on time, Inhofe said, noting there’s $1.8 billion in outstanding maintenance needs still unfunded. “Overall,” the senator added, “it seems to me that the Navy is having trouble maintaining today’s fleet of 291 ships, and the challenges will only grow as the fleet surpasses 300 ships in 2020 and 310 ships in 2022, on the way to 355 ships in the 2030s.”

The chief concern on the Ford is the fact that only two of 11 weapons elevators work, and there is no timeframe for getting the rest online. The elevators, which pull munitions from below deck topside for aircraft on the deck, are a new electromagnetic design that has bedeviled Navy planners. The service has called in a team of experts from commercial industry to help out...

Gilday confirmed to the committee that the Columbia-class nuclear submarine remains the Navy’s top priority, and that he is making sure the industrial base is prepared for continued builds of the boat that will be a key part of the United State’s nuclear triad in the coming decades. That will be no small task as the submarine industrial base will be asked in short order to double production rates from two submarines a year to at least four, which include the upgraded Virginia-class subs.

The admiral said work is pushing forward on the Columbia, and it’s on track to have 80 percent of the design work done by next year. In a nod to the Ford’s failures, he said that “any new technologies we introduce to those submarines are tested” well before being installed on the boat...

Gilday’s nomination was somewhat of a surprise, as the former commander of 10th Fleet and the Navy’s cyber arm, was outranked by seven sitting four-star admirals [emphasis added]. Such a move hasn’t happened since 1970 when then-Vice Adm. Elmo Zumwalt was nominated to be CNO, leapfrogging over a clutch of four-stars. It may be a sign that the Trump administration wants the Navy shaken up.
https://breakingdefense.com/2019/07/inhofe-navy-arrogance-on-uss-ford-oughta-be-criminal/

Mark
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tomahawk6

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The latest problem is getting ammunition from one deck to another. If I find a link I will share.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/navy-13-billion-carrier-t-222636871.html
 

Spencer100

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The elevator problem is cover for the EMALS.  (this is the conjecture on the Cdr Salamader site)  The Ford has not launched a plane is over a year. 
 
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