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Moran W and Moore T, Nov-2012. A ‘Leap Ahead’ for the 21st-Century Navy, Proceedings Magazine, USNI

Moran W and Moore T, Nov-2012. A ‘Leap Ahead’ for the 21st-Century Navy, Proceedings Magazine, USNI

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Published by: Foro Militar General on May 24, 2013
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18
r4FQUFNCFSXXXVTOJPSH
 A Leap Ahead’ 
21st-Century Navy
for the
By Rear Admiral William Moran and Rear Admiral Thomas Moore, U.S. Navy,and Captain Ed McNamee, U.S. Navy (Retired)
The new
Gerald R. Ford 
-class aircraft carriers may have a heftypricetag, but many believe the cost is worth it and that the shipswill prove to be even more iconic than their predecessors.
6 4/"7:)6/5*/(50/*/("--43*$,:5)0.140/
On 24 May, workers from the HuntingtonIngalls Industries Newport News Ship-building Division lower the 680-metric-ton lower bow unit, the last major sectionof the future aircraft carrier USS
Gerald R. Ford 
installed below the waterline. Atpresent, “construction of the ship’s struc-ture is more than 85 percent complete,”the authors state. Her christening isslated for 2013.
 
www.usni.org
PROCEEDINGS
r
19
Congress and the media. The questions are well founded,and the Navy shares those concerns. The current cost of the ship is estimated to be about $12.9 billion. This hasbeen attributed to three primary factors.First, that $12.9 billion total pricetag includes $3.7 billion of non-recurring engineering necessary for the design of the entire
Ford 
class. For ships, this one-time design charge is accountedfor in the cost of the first ship of the class, while the benefitsaccrue over the entire 94-year life of the class.Second, a 2002 decision to move from a three-ship evo-lutionary strategy to a single leap forward resulted in theconcurrent design and build of many new technologies thatwere originally planned for later ships. This has resultedin unplanned increases in both equipment and constructioncosts. However, while that decision increased the cost of the first ship of the class, it brought increased capability tothe warfighter sooner and avoided “one-of-a-kind” carriersthat would have ultimately resulted in costly sustainmentchallenges throughout their life cycles.Finally, we’ve experienced cost growth above initialestimates in several of the new government-furnished tech-nologies such as the electromagnetic aircraft launchingsystem (EMALS) and the new dual-band radar (DBR), aswell as cost growth in the contractor-furnished materialand contractor construction performance.The Navy and the contractor have learned a great dealduring design and development of this new class of nu-clear-powered carrier, and the lessons are being appliedto reduce the costs of delivering the
Ford 
, as well as theUSS
 John F. Kennedy
(CVN-79). This learning processhas developed an affordable and sustainable path forwardfor the remainder of the class.Amid the current cost debate, it’s important to remem-ber why the Navy chose to design and build a class of ship that will have a lifespan of 94 years and remain in serviceuntil 2110. The
Ford 
class willdeliver increased capability—atsignificantly reduced operatingcosts—and will remain at theforefront of a long-standingapproach to countering threatsand providing U.S. militarypresence in support of a widevariety of security objectives.
Improving on a Legend
 Nimitz
-class carriers are themost enduring and transfor-mational military platform thenation has ever built. Thoseplatforms have flown the U.S.flag in every region and everymajor conflict for the past 37years.
 Nimitz
-class carriers willremain central to our nation’sability to project power for de-
N
o other warship proclaims America’s commit-ment to the defense of the nation and its allies,as well as the broader issues of peace and sta-bility, more clearly than the nuclear-poweredaircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy. For nearly 40 years,
 Nim-itz
-class carriers have played the role of first responder tocrises and conflicts. The delivery of the USS
George H.W. Bush
(CVN-77) less than three years ago proved theearly-’60s design of the
 Nimitz
-class carriers has servedthe nation well and will continue to do so until 2059. The
Gerald R. Ford 
class will begin to succeed
 Nimitz
-class car-riers when CVN-78 delivers in 2015. Her mission will re-main unchanged, but she will carry it outwith greater lethality, survivability, jointinteroperability, and at reduced operatingand maintenance cost to taxpayers.The
Ford 
class represents a true “leap-ahead” ship that will be the centerpieceof U.S. naval power for the rest of the21st century. As you read this issue of 
Proceedings
, construction of the ship’sstructure will be more than 85 percentcomplete. The island will be installed onthe flight deck in a couple of months, andwe will christen and launch the ship nextyear before moving her to a pier whereconstruction and outfitting will continue.For more than a decade, the Navy’sdecision to build the
Ford 
-class carrierand the general viability of 21st-centurybig-deck carriers has been a topic of de-bate. Most recently, reports of cost over-runs on the first ship of the class havebrought increased scrutiny from both
US NAVY (EVAMARIE RAMSARAN)
The USS
Nimitz 
(CVN-68) participates in the Great GreenFleet demonstration portion of the 20-nation Rim of thePacific 2012 exercise on 18 July. According to the authors,
Nimitz 
-class carriers are the most enduring and transforma-tional military platforms the nation has ever built.” The Navyhopes to build on that legacy with the new
Ford 
-class ships.
 
20
r4FQUFNCFSXXXVTOJPSH
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
 Nimitz
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.
1
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.
2
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
Ford 
class is a total redesign of the
 Nimitz
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
 Nimitz
-class carriers.To put that savings intoperspective, the cost sav-ings throughout the life of the ten
Ford 
-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.
3
The
Ford 
class squares exceedingly well witheach of those considerations.
Warfighting First
Combat Power 
: 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
Ford 
-class car-riers will introduce unprecedented levels of warfightingcapability and capacity. 
r5PEBZT
 Nimitz
-class carriers can routinely generate 120combat sorties per day.
4
 
Ford 
-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.
5
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
Nimitz 
-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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