The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the most technologically advanced warship ever built
Since the Second World War, the aircraft carrier has been the most common way for the navy to show its power. Its predecessor, the battleship, while the peak of naval power at the time, was quickly proven vulnerable to aerial attack thanks to battles like the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway in the Pacific.
Since then, the United States Navy has become the world’s most powerful naval force, with its aircraft carriers forming the tip of its spear.
Literal floating airfields, the U.S. Navy’s fleet of 11 nuclear-powered supercarriers can project the United States’ power anywhere in the world. Each of these ships, capable of carrying around 80 fighters and other support aircraft, has impressive destructive potential in its own right.
The most recent version of these amazing engineering feats, the Gerald Ford class of supercarriers, is already set to keep the U.S. navy in the lead for many years to come. The most advanced and most expensive surface ship ever built, the first of its class, the USS Gerald Ford, cost an estimated $14 billion to build.
With an approximate displacement of 97,000 tons, this ship is enormous. Her length is 1,092-foot (333 meters) with a 134-foot (41 meters) waterline beam, 252-foot (76.8 meters) flight deck, and a height of nearly 250-foot (76 meters).
But, despite her size, she is still very fast for her size. While her top speed is an official U.S. Navy secret, she can make 30 knots (34.5 mph) without breaking a sweat.
Each of the Gerald Ford-class of carriers will carry a mixture of the U.S.’s latest fighters, like the navalized F-35, F-18 Superhornet, and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare jets, as well as a mixture of other support craft. The carriers are also equipped with the latest in U.S. drone technology, like the MQ025 Stingray refueling and reconnaissance UAV.
Impressive enough, but the class of ship also integrates a suite of other gear to make it one of the most advanced things afloat. Designed using computer-aided-design, the ship uses an advanced electrically powered aircraft launch and recovery system called the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS).
Using the power of electromagnetism, these launch systems are far superior to their steam-powered predecessors. So much so, in fact, that they can launch 25% more sorties.
The ship is also able to defend itself. The combination of its Dual Band Radar, which combines the X-Band AN/SPY-3 Aegis radar and the S-Band Volume Surveillance Radar, missile systems, and Phalanx Close-in Weapon systems, the ship is one tough nut to crack.
The second of the class, the USS John F. Kennedy, is currently under construction, and it will be the second aircraft carrier named after the thirty-fifth president of the United States. It should be ready for service in 2024.
The third carrier USS Enterprise is also being built and will join the fleet in the late 2020s.
The future of the U.S. Navy’s dominance, for now, at least, appears to be in safe hands.