|Photo : US Navy: The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) transits the James River during the ship's launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier three for the final stages of construction and testing.
The USS GERALD R. FORD ( CVN-78) is the first ship of her class of new generation United States Navy supercarriers. She will be in commission and operating this year (2017) . The ship is named for the 38th President of the United States, former WWII naval aviator Gerald R. Ford. The FORD will replace the inactive USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65). THE FORD is intended to be the lead ship in a new class of carriers that offer significant technological improvements over the aging NIMITZ class of carriers . Notable among the improvements is the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) which replaces the steam catapults providing greater flexibility in the design of future aircraft for use aboard (previous carriers typically had service lives of 40 to 50 years and underwent several changes of aircraft carried in that time frame). The EMALS saves below deck space and eliminates several requirements in the design of carrier launched aircraft. The EMALS innovation is expected to allow 25% more aircraft launches per day than the Nimitz class with 25% fewer crew members. The Navy also expects that each ship in the class in terms of 2017 dollars will save the Navy $4 billion in operating costs over the expected 50 year life expectancy of the ship.
Now if we may be so bold as to make a suggestion; we feel what the nation needs as the FORD Class emerges is to convert some of our aging flat top amphibious warfare ships into "Jeep Carriers" or some version of "Harrier Carriers" to allow us to have ready air cover near third world hot spots when the need comes to converge multiple Supercarriers. If we can't afford more than 11 or so supercarriers we need some efficient but much cheaper "Jeep Carriers" ( Escort Carrier name from WWII) so that we don't have to abandon American potential air cover over trouble spots when having to converge super carriers to deal with "near peer powers", or numerically superior in terms of combattant hulls forces. China with its aggressive Navy and Coast Guard expansion and over reaching territorial claims in the South and East China Seas has good reason to fear the Ford Class and most of their bombast about any ability to take US Carriers out is mostly that or smoke and mirrors. Below is a link to a video on the new Carrier class well worth reviewing.