Delivery of New Carrier Ford to Navy Delayed Yet Again

Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier
Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

The Navy said Tuesday that more "first of class" problems have been found in the new Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier that will delay delivery at least another two months.

The Navy did not specify what the new problems were with the Ford, which has already been the topic of numerous congressional hearings on cost overruns and troubles with arresting gear on the flight deck.

However, Capt. Thurraya Kent, a Navy spokeswoman, said that "during ongoing testing of developmental systems aboard the CVN 78 (Ford), first of class issues are continuing to be resolved."

Delivery of the aircraft carrier to the Navy, which had been expected in the August-September time frame, will now be delayed at least until November, the Navy said.

"If additional issues arise during the remaining shipboard testing, that date may need to be revised," Kent said. The ship being readied at Newport News (Virginia) Shipbuilding is 98 percent complete.

In a scathing statement, Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed his exasperation at yet another setback for the Ford, which has had $2.3 billion in cost overruns to boost the estimated final cost to $13 billion.

Another delivery delay "further demonstrates that key systems still have not demonstrated expected performance," McCain said. "The advanced arresting gear [AAG] cannot recover airplanes. Advanced weapons elevators cannot lift munitions. The dual-band radar cannot integrate two radar bands. Even if everything goes according to the Navy's plan, CVN-78 will be delivered with multiple systems unproven.

"This situation is unacceptable and was entirely preventable," McCain said. "The Ford-class program is a case study in why our acquisition system must be reformed."

The 1,100-foot Ford will be the first in a new class of supercarriers intended to replace the Nimitz-class carriers. The Ford has a hull design similar to the Nimitz carriers but will introduce new technologies such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System in place of steam catapults and other improvements meant to reduce operating costs and crew requirements.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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Navy Aircraft Carriers