- USS Gerald Ford’s key systems have reliability issues
- Aircraft launch and delivery systems may need to be redesigned
The Pentagon’s top weapons tester concluded the $13-billion USS Gerald R. Ford the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier is still not ready for combat,
It may struggle to launch and recover aircraft, mount a defense and move munitions, according to the Pentagon’s top weapons tester. On-board systems for those tasks have poor or unknown reliability issues.
“These four systems affect major areas of flight operations,” Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, wrote Pentagon and Navy weapons buyers Frank Kendall and Sean Stackley. “Unless these issues are resolved, which would likely require redesigning” of the aircraft launch and recovery systems “they will significantly limit the CVN-78’s ability to conduct combat operations,” Gilmore wrote, using a technical name for the carrier.
Altogether, the delays mean the CVN-78 “is unlikely to conduct high-intensity flight operation” such as those required at the outset of a war.
Already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, the carrier will sit on the docks for another few months. According to Bloomberg, the first deployment may not be until 2021.
The third Ford-class carrier, the USS Enterprise (CVN 80), is set to begin construction in 2018.
Including the new carriers, the Navy hopes to spend $81.3 billion to build 38 new warships, including the first replacement for the aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, nine Virginia-class attack submarines, 10 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and smaller numbers of other surface ships.
The goal of the building plan is to have a Navy battle force of 308 ships by 2021, according to Stackley’s testimony in April.
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