Gerald R. Ford Class Aircraft Carrier - US:

Gerald R. Ford Class Aircraft Carrier

Gerald R. Ford class (or Ford class, previously known as CVN-21 class), is a class of supercarrier being built to replace some of the United States Navy's existing Nimitz-class carriers, beginning with the delivery of CVN-78, USS Gerald R. Ford. The new vessels have a hull similar to the Nimitz carriers, but introduce technologies since developed such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, as well as other design features intended to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs, including sailing with smaller crews.

Gerald R. Ford Class Aircraft Carrier

The current Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in US naval service has been part of United States power projection strategy since Nimitz was commissioned in 1975. Displacing about 100,000 tons when fully loaded, a Nimitz-class carrier can steam faster than 30 knots, cruise without resupply for 90 days, and launch aircraft to strike targets hundreds of miles away. The endurance of this class is exemplified by USS Theodore Roosevelt, which spent 159 days underway in support of Operation Enduring Freedom without visiting a port or being refueled.

The Nimitz design has accommodated many new technologies over the decades, but it has limited ability to support the most recent technical advances. As a 2005 Rand report said, "The biggest problems facing the Nimitz class are the limited electrical power generation capability and the upgrade-driven increase in ship weight and erosion of the center-of-gravity margin needed to maintain ship stability."

Gerald R. Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier

With these constraints in mind, the US Navy developed what was initially known as the CVN-21 program, which ultimately evolved into CVN-78, Gerald R. Ford. Improvements were made through developing technologies and more efficient design. Major design changes include a larger flight deck, improvements in weapons and material handling, a new propulsion plant design that requires fewer people to operate and maintain, and a new smaller island that has been pushed aft. Technological advances in electromagnetics have led to the development of an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and an Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG). An integrated warfare system, the Ship Self-Defense System (SSDS), has been developed to allow the ship to more easily take on new missions. The new Dual Band Radar (DBR) combines S-band and X-band radar. Flight deck changes support the requirements for a higher sortie rate, around 160 a day with surges to 270.

These advances will allow the new Gerald R. Ford–class carriers to launch 25% more sorties, generate triple the electrical power, require less time offline, and offer various quality-of-life improvements. More details