|Builders:||Newport News Shipbuilding|
|Operators:||United States Navy|
|Preceded by:||Nimitz class aircraft carrier|
100,000 long tons 101,600 tonnes 112,000 short tons
|Length:||1,092 ft (333 m)|
|Beam:||Flight deck: 252 ft (77 m) Waterline: 134 ft (41 m)|
|Propulsion:||2 A1B nuclear reactors|
|Speed:||In excess of 30 kn (56 km/h; 35 mph)|
|Aviation facilities:||1,092 × 256 foot (333 ×78 m) flight deck|
The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier supercarriers (or Ford-class) are a class of ten nuclear-powered supercarriers for the United States Navy, intended to eventually replace the current Nimitz class aircraft carrier carriers. The new vessels will use a hull design very similar to the Nimitz carriers in appearance, but many aspects of the design will be very different, implementing new technologies developed since the initial design of the previous class (such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System), as well as other design features intended to improve efficiency and running costs, including a reduced crew requirement. The first hull of the line is named USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), and have the hull number CVN-78. It is the newest aircraft carrier class in the Unites States built for the U.S. Navy. It was to be an answer to the Soviet Union's Project 1143,8 Comrade Stanislav, People's Republic of China's Future Chinese class aircraft carrier, United Kingdom's Super Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier and the Russian Federation's Future Russian class aircraft carrier.
Aircraft carriers of the Ford class will incorporate design features including:
- Advanced arresting gear.
- Automation, which reduces crew requirements by several hundred from the Nimitz class carrier.
- The updated RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile system.
- AN/SPY-3 dual-band radar (DBR), as developed for Zumwalt class destroyers.
- An Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System(EMALS) in place of traditional steam catapults for launching aircraft.
- A new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor) for greater power generation.
- Stealthier features to help reduce radar profile.
- The ability to launch the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, and the F-35C Lightning II.
The US Navy believes that with the addition of the most modern equipment and extensive use of automation, it will be able to reduce the crew requirement and the total cost of future aircraft carriers. The primary recognition feature compared to earlier supercarriers will be the more aft location of the navigation "island". The relocation of the 'island' will enable the carrier to sustain 140–160 sorties per day with a surge capability of 220 sorties.
Construction began on components of CVN-78 in the spring of 2007, and was planned to finish in 2015. It were under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (formerly Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding) in Newport News, Virginia, the only shipyard in the United States capable of building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. In 2005 it was estimated to cost at least $8 billion excluding the $5 billion spent on research and development (though that was not expected to be representative of the cost of future members of the class). A 2009 report said that the Ford could cost $14 billion including research and development, and the actual cost of the carrier itself could be $9 billion. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was finish in late 2015 and USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) in 2017. The third carrier, USS Constitution (CVN-80) was commissioned into the United States Navy in 2023. The fourth and fifth aircraft carriers, USS Barry M. Goldwater (CVN-81) and USS Maine (CVN-82) were put into operation in mid-2025s. The sixth carrier, USS Lexington (CVN-83), was put into commission in 2027. The seventh aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN-84), was commissioned in 2030. The 8th aircraft carrier, USS Arizona (CVN-85) was put into operation in 2033. USS America (CVN-86), the 9th supercarirer, was commissioned in late 2036.
A total of five carriers had been authorized for construction, but if the Nimitz class aircraft carriers and Enterprise class aircraft carrier were to be joined on a one-for-one basis, eleven carriers would be required over the life of the program. However, the last Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is not scheduled to be recommissioned until 2058.
In an 6 April 2009, speech, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that the Navy Aircraft Carrier program would shift to a five year building program so as to place it on a "more fiscally sustainable path." Such a measure would result in ten carriers by 2040.
There was a movement by the USS America (CV-66) Carrier Veterans' Association to have CVN-78 named after the America rather than after President of the United States, Gerald Ford. Eventually, USS America (LHA-6) was named America.
Ships in classEdit
There was expected to be ten or eleven ships of this class. To date, nine had been announced in 2011 and commissioned by 2036:
- USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), (2015) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Enterprise (CVN-65).
- USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), (2018) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
- USS Constitution (CVN-80), (2023) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69).
- USS Barry M. Goldwater (CVN-81), (2025) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).
- USS Maine (CVN-82), (2025) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).
- USS Lexington (CVN-83), (2027) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72).
- USS Enterprise (CVN-84), (2030) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS George Washington (CVN-73).
- USS Arizona (CVN-85), (2033) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).
- USS America (CVN-86), (2036) – Scheduled to join the naval fleet including USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75).
The Ford class of carriers will be capable of carrying about 90 aircraft including the F-35 Lightning II, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the EA-18G Growler, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound, MH-60R/S Seahawk helicopters and unmanned combat air vehicles such as the X-47B X-47B.