After nearly two decades of intense development and unwanted delays, the most expensive warship ever built, USS Gerald R Ford, is finally ready for combat deployment.
The U.S. Navy approved the $14 billion aircraft carrier without any commotion in December 2021.
The $14 billion budget does not include ship protection and logistics costs to apply the aircraft carrier. As per the Congressional Research Service, USS Ford will carry 70+ aircraft, including F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, five EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, 40 to 50 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and 19 MH-60 Seahawk helicopters, four E-2D Hawkeye airborne early-warning aircraft; and two MV-22B Osprey cargo transports.
The keel of the transformational warship was ceremonially laid on November 14, 2009. It was expected to be deployment-ready by 2017. But a series of delays and reliability problems with multiple new technologies led to an uneventful five-year delay.
Gerald R Ford, the first of the Ford-class carriers that would eventually replace the existing Nimitz class carriers, has integrated a whole set of new and never used before technologies. For example, the Ford-class carrier was designed with a new Dual-Band Radar system, new aircraft arresting gear, weapons elevators and new electromagnetically-powered aircraft launch catapults. With all these latest technologies, a highly efficient aircraft carrier was expected.
Sadly, much of the new equipment ran into severe technical problems, including its propulsion system, aircraft-launching electromagnetic catapults, and magnetic weapons elevators to pull bombs up to the flight deck. It took five long years to get rid of all the problems.
Here is a video of the USS Gerald R Ford Full Ship Shock Trial:
As per Capt. Brian Metcalf, the Ford program manager, the Navy approved initial operational capability on December 22 when the last of its elevators was certified.
“The Ford will soon get underway for trials with a full air wing on board and is on track to make its first overseas deployment in the early fall,” Capt. Metcalf said.