Gerald R. Ford Class Aircraft Carrier

The Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers (or Ford-class) will be the next generation supercarrier for the United States Navy. Before its redesignation as the Ford-class (CVN-78), this new class of carriers was known as the CVNX carrier program and then as the CVN-21 carrier program.

Carriers of the Ford class will incorporate many new design features including a new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor), stealthier features to help reduce radar profile, electromagnetic catapults, advanced arresting gear, and reduced crewing requirements. The U.S. Navy believes that with the addition of the most modern equipment and extensive use of automation they will be able to reduce the total cost of future aircraft carriers. If the Navy can reduce the cost of constructing and maintaining an aircraft carrier, they will overcome the biggest complaint received in the U.S. Congress - that of funding.

The first hull of the CVN-21 line will be Gerald R. Ford. The CVN-21 uses the basic hull design of the preceding Nimitz-class.

Construction began on components of CVN-21 in the spring of 2007, and is planned to finish in 2015. It will be constructed at Northrop Grumman Newport News (formerly Newport News Shipbuilding), the only shipyard in the country capable of building and refueling nuclear powered aircraft carriers. It is estimated to cost at least $13 billion including the $5 billion spent on R&D and is not representative of the cost of future members of the class.

A total of three carriers have been authorized for construction, but if the Nimitz class and Enterprise were to be replaced on a one-for-one basis, eleven carriers would be required over the life of the program.


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