What the Americans decided to do with aircraft carriers

What the Americans decided to do with aircraft carriers

Andrey Kots

The commissioning of the newest Ame-rican aircraft carrier Gerald Ford may again be postponed indefinitely. Formally, the floating airfield is part of the fleet, but it is not able to carry out combat missions. To complete it, there are not enough components – other ships have to be disassembled for parts. What happens with the pride of the US Navy – in the material RIA Novosti.
“Difficult child”
The coronavirus pandemic also affected the American shipbuilding industry: production levels fell, supply chains were disrupted. Washington admits that the contractors did not provide the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford, the lead aircraft carrier in the series, with components on time. According to plans, he should be ready for service next year. And in conditions of time pressure, one has to go to extremes.
“The lack of parts necessary for the completion of the CVN-78 Gerald Ford led us to borrow them from the second aircraft carrier of the project, CVN-79 John F. Kennedy,” US Navy spokesman Clay Doss told reporters. engine controllers, power supplies, small pumps, limit switches, valve actuators for various systems throughout the ship and a variety of other accessories.”
Doss stressed that “technical cannibalism” is, albeit a forced, but rather widespread measure in the military industry. According to him, when the construction of new ships is fully mastered, the production of spare parts in the required quantities will also be adjusted. The Navy claims: despite the “donation” of “John F. Kennedy”, it will be handed over to the Navy on time – by 2024.
However, other complications may arise. A supercarrier is an extremely difficult child for American industry.
Long-standing problems
Gerald Ford has been in development since the mid-1990s to replace the first US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, Enterprise, which has been in service since the 1960s. A new floating airfield was laid down in 2005, and launched in the fall of 2013. It is the largest warship in the world with a displacement of more than 100 thousand tons.
Length – 337 meters, width – 78, height – 76. Two nuclear reactors with a capacity of 700 megawatts each accelerate this giant to 30 knots (56 kilometers per hour). The autonomy of sailing is unlimited – you just need to stock up on food once every three months.
There are about a hundred aircraft in the wing: F / A-18E / F Super Hornet fighters, F-35C stealth aircraft, EA-18G Growler ele-ctronic countermeasures, E-2D Hawkeye reconnaissance aircraft and C-2 Gr-eyhound transports. Also, the aircraft carrier can take on board MH-60R / S helicopters and drones. The crew is more than 4.5 thousand people, although the designers tried to automate everything to the maximum.
They were going to put Gerald Ford into operation in 2016. But, as reported by Bloomberg, the ship failed the check for combat effectiveness: even before the first exit to sea, such malfunctions were discovered that can only be eliminated by redesign. Electromag-netic air arrestors were es-pecially disappointing. De-signed to receive 1,600 aircraft, in practice they coped with only 25. And the electromagnetic catapult, inste-ad of four thousand takeof-fs, provided four hundred.
Defenseless against missiles
In addition, the Pentagon commission was not satisfied with the aircraft lifts – they revealed defects that could negatively affect all systems of the ship. The problem has not yet been resolved – out of 11 devi-ces, only two function normally. Finally, in preliminary tests, radar stations, created specifically for the new aircraft carriers, failed.
Nevertheless, on April 8, 2017, “Gerald Ford” went to sea, and on May 31, he was enlisted in the Navy. However, while sailing, the prop bearings of the propeller shafts broke down rather quickly. Repaired for several months. In 2018, during sea trials, the power plant went bad. The Navy explained: “There are difficulties in converting the energy generated by nuclear reactors into the rotation of propellers.” The aircraft carrier had to be towed to the base.
A year later, he was again stuck at the pier due to power plant failures. Of course, new ships often encounter “childhood illnesses”, but the American aircraft carrier seems to be pursuing bad luck. In addition, due to numerous breakdowns, its cost has grown from 10.5 to 13 billion dollars – this is serious even for the US defense budget. In Washington, they began to doubt: are such large and expensive ships really needed?
This is partly due to the fact that they are too easy a target for the latest hypersonic missiles.
The Russian fleet will receive the promising Zircon complex in 2022. The range of the missile will exceed the range of the carrier-based aircraft of American aircraft carriers, and the speed – about Mach nine – will make it invulnerable to shipborne air defense systems. American analysts admitted: “Zircon” will make holes in any US Navy ship.
“This weapon allows you to strike at any target from anywhere in the world ocean,” Major General of the Reserve Vladimir Bogatyrev told Sputnik radio. It is targeted. The Zircons render any missile defense system useless. And our so-called partners know and fear that.” Earlier, the media reported on the launch of a series of anti-ship “Zircons” for surface ships and submarines.

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