Gerald R. Ford class

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USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in April 2017
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) in April 2017
Type Aircraft carrier
units 12 (planned), including 1 in service
Namesake US President Gerald Ford
period of service

since July 22, 2017

Technical specifications

100,000 ts


337 meters (Lüa)
333 meters (flight deck)


41 meters (fuselage)
78 meters (flight deck)


11.9 meters




4 propellers with nuclear power drive (2 A1B - nuclear reactors )


30+ kn


Up to 90, including: Boeing F / A-18 , Boeing EA-18 , Grumman C-2 , Grumman E-2 , Lockheed Martin F-35 , Sikorsky SH-60

The Gerald R. Ford- class is a class of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the United States Navy . The carriers are to gradually replace the Nimitz- class aircraft carriers . The first unit, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) was christened November 9, 2013 and entered service on July 22, 2017.


The outer hull is identical to that of the Nimitz class . The beams are 337 meters long and 41 meters wide. The flight deck has a length of 333 meters and a width of 78 meters. The tonnage is 100,000 tons slightly higher than in the Nimitz class. The interior of the ship and the superstructure, however, differ significantly and take into account the technical progress since the development of the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) . Some innovations have already been introduced on the USS George HW Bush (CVN-77) for test purposes. The new class should be equipped for future technical developments by means of a modular design .

The ships will be powered by nuclear power, and the reactors of the new A1B type will be more cost-efficient. The electrical power produced on the ship should be at least two and a half times that of the Nimitz class.

Improved stealth technology should reduce the wearer's radar signature. In addition, operational processes on board are being increasingly automated in order to enable the crew to be reduced by around 30 percent and thereby contribute to a considerable reduction in the cost of carrier operations.

The Gerald R. Ford class carriers are expected to be the McDonnell Douglas F / A-18 “Super Hornet”, Boeing EA-18 “Growler” and Grumman E-2 aircraft already used on other United States Navy carriers "Hawkeye" and the new Lockheed Martin F-35 C "Lightning II" carry. For the first time, the aircraft catapults will no longer be steam-powered as before, but have an electromagnetic drive ( Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System , abbreviation EMALS), which is supposed to increase the launch rate and reduce wear and tear and maintenance. In 2009, however, the Government Accountability Office doubted that the ship's electromagnetic aircraft catapult could be completed on schedule and on budget. On December 16, 2010, the first F / A-18E Super Hornet was launched in Lakehurst by means of an EMAL. The test was successful.

A revised and thus optimized flight deck should enable a 15 percent increase in the deployment rate. This is achieved through more sophisticated logistics for loading and refueling the aircraft as well as by revising the construction of the command tower (called the "island") and its position on the carrier. In addition, only three - instead of the previous four - elevators are being installed, but they work much faster and more efficiently.

The following systems are planned for self-defense: Phalanx Block 1B , RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile , RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile , AN / SLQ-32 (V) 4 and AN / SLQ-25 Nixie . A modified “Dual Band Radar” (DBR) from Raytheon , which is also used in the Zumwalt class, serves as the primary radar complex . It consists of two radar systems with different tasks and frequency ranges. These in turn consist of three AESA antennas with a diameter of 2.44 or 3.96 meters, which are permanently attached to the island and each monitor a third of the airspace.

The Gerald R. Ford class ships will also receive a new passive protection system. It is called "dynamic armor" and is intended to protect critical parts (e.g. magazines and fuel stores ) from shaped charge warheads. It is based on two plates, which are electrically charged differently and a few centimeters apart. A sufficiently large amount of electrical energy is stored via capacitors . If the metal spike (usually copper ) from the shaped charge warhead creates an electrical connection, the current flowing between the two plates causes the spike to evaporate, which reduces the effectiveness of such weapons.


The keel laying of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) , which replaced the USS Enterprise (CVN-65 ) , which was decommissioned in February 2017 , took place on November 14, 2009, and the carrier was put into service on July 22, 2017 .

Construction began 12 years earlier when the first steel plates were cut to size for the hull in a small ceremony at Northrop Grumman in Newport News , Virginia in August 2005 . Before the official name was announced, the project was run as the CVN-21 program and CVN-X , in each case after the identifier for nuclear powered aircraft carriers "CVN".

Initially, the US Navy had calculated that CVN-78 could be built for just over seven billion US dollars. In 2015, the Congressional Budget Office assumed $ 10.4 billion per ship. In the end, it became the most expensive ship in world history, with construction costs of $ 13 billion and research costs of more than $ 36 billion.

At the memorial service for Gerald Ford's death , former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that CVN-78 would be named USS Gerald R. Ford . The US Navy officially confirmed this on January 16, 2007.

The contract for CVN-79 was originally supposed to be awarded in 2012. In 2009, however, the US Department of Defense decided to postpone it for one year. The cost of the ship is estimated at $ 9.2 billion. In late May 2011, Navy Secretary of State Ray Mabus announced that CVN-79 would be named after the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy . The order for CVN-80 was scheduled for 2014 and was awarded in 2016. At the inactivation ceremony of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) on December 1, 2012, it was announced that the CVN-80 would be the ninth ship in the US Navy to carry the USS Enterprise .

Twelve Ford- class carriers are planned, the first eleven ships should originally be built by 2058, now by 2060. The first ship, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), replaced the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). The ten other ships will replace the Nimitz- class on a one-to-one basis . Due to the delays of the second and third ship, the delivery interval, originally a further carrier every four years, is now five years. As of 2017, a fleet of up to 12 carriers is planned.

Surname Procurement Keel laying Launch Commissioning Replacement for
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) September 10, 2008 November 14, 2009 November 9, 2013 July 22, 2017 USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) January 15, 2009 22nd August 2015 November 2019 2022 USS Nimitz (CVN 68)
USS Enterprise (CVN-80) May 23, 2016 2020 2027Template: future / in 5 years USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69)
USS Doris Miller (CVN 81) 2030Template: future / in 5 years USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)
CVN-82 2032Template: future / in 5 years USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71)

Web links

Commons : Gerald R. Ford -class  - collection of pictures, videos, and audio files


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