cades to come. In fact, the last commanding officer of the
George H. W. Bush
, the final ship in the class, hasnot yet been born.As intended by its designers almost 50 years ago, the
class has proved to be profoundly adaptable; its pri-mary weapon systems span several generations of aircraftfrom F-4s to F/A-18E/Fs, and it will eventually includethe Joint Strike Fighter (F-35C) and a new generation of unmanned aircraft. However, the ship was designed at atime when manpower requirements had much less impacton cost, and at a time when we had not yet envisionedthe advancements in weapons and computer-driven infor-mation-dominance systems of today.Following studies that began in 1996, a 2002 Secretaryof Defense Science Board panel concluded that it wastime to develop a new aircraft carrier design that wouldincorporate advancements in technology to make a carriermore capable, more advanced, and more efficient, whileleaving plenty of room for unforeseeable advancementsin engineering and science into the 22nd century.
Theship was designed to increase capability and reduce totalownership costs—particularly through manpower reduc-tions and other innovations, including a more efficientnuclear power plant design, fiber-optic networks, corrosioncontrol, and new lightweight materials.
It also includesnumerous improvements to warfighting ability and en-hanced survivability of the ship in the face of the improvedoffensive capabilities of potential adversaries.As stated previously, with the exception of the hull,the
class is a total redesign of the
class, in-corporating advances in technology such as a new reactorplant, propulsion system, electric plant, electromagneticcatapults, advanced arresting gear, machinery control, andintegrated warfare systems. The class also brings improvedwarfighting capability, quality-of-life improvements forour sailors, and reducedlife-cycle costs. Together,these efforts will reducemanning by more than600 billets, reduce mainte-nance, improve operationalavailability and capability,and reduce total ownershipcost over its 50-year lifeby $4 billion comparedwith
-class carriers.To put that savings intoperspective, the cost sav-ings throughout the life of the ten
-class carriersplanned in the programof record would fund theprocurement of more thanthree new carriers in to-day’s dollars.Chief of Naval Opera-tions Admiral JonathanGreenert’s “Sailing Direc-tions” lay out prioritiesfor our Navy, includingthree key considerationsthat should be applied toevery decision—warfighting first, operate forward, andbe ready.
class squares exceedingly well witheach of those considerations.
: The aircraft carrier’s primary missionis to generate overwhelming combat power from the sea.Its presence should be convincing enough to deter an ad-versary, its air wing deadly enough to prevent an adver-sary from achieving its objectives. Often a single carrierand embarked air wing will conduct this role for severalweeks until a second or even third carrier can arrive onstation if needed. The beauty of a carrier is its ability toconduct persistent, powerful, and precise strike operationsanywhere on the globe. Improvements to
-class car-riers will introduce unprecedented levels of warfightingcapability and capacity.
-class carriers can routinely generate 120combat sorties per day.
-class carriers will be ableto generate 33 percent more sorties per day—160 sorties,and more than 270 sorties per day for short periods of high-tempo operations.
Combined with today’s weaponsand improved targeting capability that allow a single air-craft to target multiple targets on each sortie, the overall
In June, an SH-60F Sea Hawk from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 11 conducts flight operations fromthe USS
George H. W. Bush
during a scheduled underway period in the Atlantic Ocean. The last of her class,the delivery of this ship almost three years ago, the authors note, “proved the early-’60s design of the
-class carriers has served the nation well and will continue to do so util 2059.” In fact, the last skipper of the
George H. W. Bush
, they say, “has not yet been born.”
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