Everyone at the Pentagon Needs to Read Superiority, by Arthur C. Clark

The newest carrier in the US Navy, and the lead ship in the class, the USS Gerald Ford, has experiences many problems related to new technologies implemented on the ship.

First, it was the electromagnetic catapults, which are still missing performance and reliability goals, then it was the advanced arrester gear, and now it appears that the munitions elevators cannot deliver ordinance to the flight deck, meaning that the Ford is not even close to combat ready:

Only two of 11 elevators needed to lift munitions to the deck of the U.S. Navy’s new $13 billion aircraft carrier have been fully installed, according to a Navy veteran who serves on a key House committee.

“I don’t see an end in sight right now” to getting all the elevators working on the USS Gerald R. Ford, the costliest warship ever, Democratic Representative Elaine Luria of Virginia said in an interview. The ship was supposed to be delivered with the Advanced Weapons Elevators, which are moved by magnets rather than cables, working in May 2017.

It’s another setback for contractor Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. — and for the Navy, which had said in December it planned to complete installation and testing of all 11 elevators before the Ford completed its post-delivery shakedown phase this month, with at least half certified for operation.

Instead, the shakedown phase has been extended to October and the vessel won’t have all the elevators fully installed — much less functioning — by then, according to Luria, a 20-year Navy surface warfare officer whose served on two aircraft carriers and as shore maintenance coordinator for a third.

“Essentially, the ship can’t deploy,” Luria said. “It can’t carry ammunition.” She said the Navy and Huntington Ingalls are trying to solve new problems with doors and hatches lining elevators shafts that don’t meet specifications.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said in January that he told President Donald Trump to fire him if the service couldn’t fix the weapons elevators by July. Instead, Trump praised the Ford as “phenomenal” on July 22.

The Ford’s Advanced Weapons Elevators are designed for the carrier’s crew to move as much as 24,000 pounds of ordnance at 150 feet-per-minute, up from the 10,500 pounds at 100 feet-per-minute on the older Nimitz-class carrier. That would increase by more than 30% the number of combat sorties that could launch from the carrier over 24 hours, according to the Navy.

The elevators aren’t the only issue plaguing the ship, which has had problems with two other core systems — the electromagnetic system to launch planes and the arresting gear to catch them when they land.

What can I say, but, “But I cannot be held responsible for my future actions if I am compelled any longer to share my cell with Professor Norden, late Chief of the Research Staff of my armed forces.”*

The Pentagon is going to innovate itself into oblivion.

*Seriously, just read the story, you can find it online.

One comment

  1. marku says:

    "Superiority" was totally brilliant. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    And an aircraft carrier? In this era of super quiet subs and cruise missile swarms, not even to mention ballistic missiles, they might as well paint a big target on the flight deck

    Obsolete against any foe armed with more than a passion fruit (HT Monty Python)

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