The first in a new class of supercarriers, the USS Gerald R. Ford was delivered to the Navy years behind schedule and billions over budget. The $13 billion ship‘s aircraft launching and retrieval systems are still works in progress, and only one of the carrier’s 11 weapons elevators is currently operating. Despite those serious ongoing technical issues, the Navy is moving forward with an order for two more of the 1,106-foot-long ships, at a cost of $24 billion.
The Navy says that ordering two ships – the Enterprise (CVN-80) and the as-yet-unnamed CVN-81, the third and fourth members of the Ford class – at the same time will save about $4 billion. Defense News reports that the projected savings come from buying materials and equipment in greater quantities and the ability of the shipbuilder, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding, to maintain a steady and predictable workforce.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition James “Hondo” Geurts said that the dual order was also influenced by the new National Defense Strategy, which focuses on great-power competition with Russia and China.