June 07, 2016

First Ford Super aircraft carrier on track for September delivery and second for 2022

CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81 are the first four ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).


CVN-78 was procured in FY2008. The Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,887.0 million (i.e., about $12.9 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in late August or early September 2016.

CVN-79 was procured in FY2013. The Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $11,398.0 million (i.e., about $11.4 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in June 2022.

CVN-80 is scheduled to be procured in FY2018. The Navy’s proposed FY2017 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,900.0 million (i.e., $12.9 billion) in then-year dollars.

The Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class carrier design is the successor to the Nimitz-class carrier design. The Ford-class design uses the basic Nimitz-class hull form but incorporates several improvements, including features permitting the ship to generate 33% more aircraft sorties per day, more electrical power for supporting ship systems, and features permitting the ship to be operated by several hundred fewer sailors than a Nimitz-class ship, reducing 50-year life-cycle operating and support costs for each ship by about $4 billion compared to the Nimitz-class design, the Navy estimates. Navy plans call for procuring at least four Ford-class carriers—CVN-78, CVN-79, CVN-80, and CVN-81.

The Ford carrier has


  • 2.5 times electrical generation capacity over the Nimitz-class
  • Manpower reduction of 500 billets


The new carrier class was redesigned from the keel to the mast of the island house. Among the improvements:

  • New reactor and propulsion plants
  • Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), an improvement over steam catapult system
  • New island
  • All electric ship
  • Major space rearrangement
  • Flight deck extensions
  • Advanced arresting gear

Among the new technologies in the Ford-class are:

  • Dual Band Radar: Enables a smaller island structure on the deck of the carrier, facilitating the ship’s increased sortie generation rate
  • Multifunction radar and volume search radar: integrates two radars operating on different frequency bands
  • EMALS: Replaces steam catapult. Uses electrically generated, moving magnetic field to propel aircraft to launch speed.

Weapons Elevator: Elevators use moving electromagnetic fields instead of cabling, which allows elevator shaft to use horizontal doors to close off magazines. This Reduces manning and maintenance costs.

Cargo Elevators: Cargo elevators will replace cargo conveyers allowing faster transport of palletized materials while eliminating the wasted time of unloading pallets and moving cans vice pallets of materials throughout the ship. Elevators are located so material is delivered directly to point of use locations like the Galley from the storage areas so cross ship transport is eliminated.



SOURCES - Congressional research service, newport news shipbuilding

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