Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pentagon Weapons Buyer Orders Review of Troubled New Carrier

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has ordered an independent review of the $12.9 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, citing a list of actual and potential deficiencies with the costliest warship ever.
“With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly premature to include so many unproven technologies” on the vessel, from those needed to generate power and launch and land aircraft to its radar and elevators to move munitions, Frank Kendall said in an Aug. 23 memo addressed to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and obtained by Bloomberg News.
The review comes three months before the carrier is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy. The Ford is being built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., with advanced systems from a number of subcontractors, including Raytheon Co. and General Atomics.
The inclusion of unproven technologies was a decision “made long ago as part of a DoD-level initiative called ‘Transformation,’” Kendall wrote. The initiative, which also produced several failed space programs, came under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld starting in 2001.
The Navy plans to deploy the Ford, designated CVN-78, for worldwide operations by 2021 after a series of maintenance and training exercises and completion of full-ship shock trials by fiscal 2018, so there is time to correct deficiencies before potential combat operations. Yet resolving the problems cited so far are critical for the vessel’s success.  more