By Debbie Gregory.
The U.S. Navy took delivery of its newest and costliest U.S. aircraft carrier on May 31st , which should be great news.
But it turns out that the system used to launch and capture jets to and from the USS Gerald R. Ford is having issue doing both.
While the Navy reports that the landing system has been fixed, the carrier hasn’t received clearance to launch F/A-18 jets yet. The catapult problem, which was discovered in 2014, limits how much combat fuel can be carried in planes being launched from the carrier’s deck.
The aircraft are limited as to the types of missions that they can accomplish without added under-wing fuel tanks.
John McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has been a vocal critic of the Navy’s management of the Ford program.
While it’s encouraging to see the Ford “finally delivered to the Navy,” the Arizona Republican said the Navy’s funding request for it exceeds the congressional budget cap by $20 million. The third and final ship of the planned three-ship, $42 billion Ford class of carriers is projected to cost $1.6 billion more than the second one.
“This is unacceptable for a ship certified to be a repeat design that will deliver just three years later,” McCain said.
Most of the cost increase was due to an underfunded technology phase that didn’t allow enough time for the discovery and correction of problems.
The ship is named after the 38th President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, whose World War II naval service included combat duty aboard the light aircraft carrier Monterey in the Pacific Theater.
The Navy still has time to fix the catapult issue. Although the Ford has been delivered, the ship is not scheduled to be declared ready for operations until 2020, with first actual deployment planned for about 2022, according to Navy spokeswoman Captain Thurraya Kent.