Delivery of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has been pushed back again, this time by about a month and a half due to ongoing first-in-class challenges.
[NBF] This will likely result in some further cost overruns.
Navy spokeswoman Capt. Thurraya Kent told reporters that the ship’s current estimated delivery date is now November 2016, though the program manager told USNI News in May that delivery was on track for late-September. Kent said that “during the ongoing testing of developmental systems onboard the CVN-78, first-of-class issues are continuing to be resolved” and that if additional challenges arise the date could be pushed back further.
Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O’Rourke told USNI News that no one system caused the delay, but rather the Navy and shipbuilder are “working through some first-of-class issues” generally.
The ship was originally planned to deliver to the Navy in March 2016. That was pushed back by six to eight weeks, as announced in September 2015, due to “deterioration” in progress that would cause a slip in the ship’s test schedule.
Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) took aim the program in a blistering statement Tuesday, saying “The Navy’s announcement of another two-month delay in the delivery of CVN-78 further demonstrates that key systems still have not demonstrated expected performance. 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,” the statement continues.
“The Ford-class program is a case study in why our acquisition system must be reformed – unrealistic business cases, poor cost estimates, new systems rushed to production, concurrent design and construction, and problems testing systems to demonstrate promised capability. After more than $2.3 billion in cost overruns have increased its cost to nearly $13 billion, the taxpayers deserve to know when CVN-78 will actually be delivered, how much developmental risk remains in the program, if cost overruns will continue, and who is being held accountable.