Navy makes next two Ford-class aircraft carriers ‘deadlier’

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The Navy is making lethality improvement “changes”, a number of new Ford-class aircraft carriers to comprehensive “digital shipbuilding” and weapons targeted adjustments designed to further increase the total amount of aircraft carrier combat effectiveness.

The initiatives, according to the Navy statements, involve specific aircraft carrier changes intended to, among other things, the improvement of maritime warfare potential of the soon-to-arrive F-35C and MQ-25 Stingray aerial drone refueler.

This is now in motion changes that the Marine developers do not give a recorded changes of the F-35C or Stingray itself in a part destined to be the step to convert aircraft carrier attack capabilities on the open sea, revealed by the Navy’s recent a cost-effective two-carrier to buy.


All this is made possible by a two-carrier Navy buy of the next several Ford-class carriers. In place of the stove-pipes or the separation of the purchases for the next two carriers, the Navy has awarded a contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries to build the future of the USS Enterprise (CVN 80) and the as-of-yet unoccupied fourth Ford-class carrier – CVN 81.

“Integrated Digital Shipbuilding is the key to achieve the production efficiency of the two-CVN buy. The Navy and the shipbuilder to invest in ids, which will reduce the size of the production effort required to build the Ford-class carriers, William Bank, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman told the Warrior Maven.

In addition to the envisaged cost savings of more than $ 4 billion associated with the block buy, the Navy is also streamlining of weapons and war-the development of technology for the F-35C, Mk 38 gun system and MQ-25 Stingray drones.


“These adjustments increase the lethality of the Ford-class, and are an additional $100 million in savings … since these changes were not included in the original single CVN Marine treasures,” a Navy statement writes.

These changes to the carriers themselves, described as “lethality” to improve the measures are part of the Navy’s broader strategy to massively increase offensive and defensive war systems for the Ford-class carriers. So far, a number of these measures include the planned expansion of the now-in-the development of the torpedo defense systems, interceptor missiles and the introduction of the very influential platforms such as the F-35C and MQ-25 Stingray.

The streamlining of the integration of these platforms, as indicated by the Navy, can lead to a range of essential improvements – and in line with the Marine strategy to better prepare carriers for the war. The F-35C, of course, brings with it a new set of attacking options for the Carrier Air Wing, and not to mention an unprecedented measure of aerial Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (ISR). Drawing on new sensor and targeting technology, the aerial attack range will be significantly changed, and the stealth-technology to enable the air to fall to work in higher threat environments, such as areas with advanced air-defense. The arrival of the F-35C is, by all estimations, expected to change the paradigm for carrier-air attack.


These improvements are intended to cooperate with and to take advantage of the emergence of a first-of-its-kind drone refueler which brings with it the promise of a possible doubling of the attack radius of carrier-launched fighters.

A possibility to refuel during a flight massively extends a carrier’s attempt to project power, while at a safer stand-off distances. If the combat radius of an F-18, F-35, on a single tank of fuel, reaches 300 to 400 miles or so, the plane will have to run on a certain distance from the carrier. However, if an attack platform can double that range, it can of course travel much further, making many more “dwell time” when it comes to attacks and provide the ability to strike targets further inland or from larger distances.

Therefore, it is obvious that the streamlining of the acquisition and the integration of these systems is aligned with an aggressive Marine pressure to make carriers more control of the state. This strategy seems to be a number of possible dimensions. While the carriers typically operate in the Carrier Strike Groups surrounded by cruisers, destroyers and other warships able to provide protection to a rapidly changing threat environment is expected to lead to the need for more distributed or split operations. In short, carriers should have a greater attack and defense technology. For this reason, the service is not only looking to streamline and speed up the arrival of the F-35C and drone tanker, but also bring new weapons like lasers, machine guns, electronic warfare and new interceptor-defense systems.


All of this is going to be a much discussed phenomenon characteristic of Marine carriers for quite some time, namely that greater range anti-ship missiles, drone attacks, EW and laser threats from potential opponents to change the equation with regards to where carriers may be required to work. Observers have said new weapons such as the Chinese DF-26 anti-ship missile is reportedly able to travel up to 900 miles and other emerging threats, a radical change in the manner in which carriers need to function, so they may be less able to attack, and project force. However, Navy leaders, and developers often say, “not so fast,” making the point that new weapons, and carrier defense will enable the carriers to work where they want. Of course, they do not have much details, for the safety, but there are a number of the quickly emerging weapons that dramatically improve the Navy, “layered” ship defense system.

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