Next Generation aircraft carrier

Updated: 2011-07-22 10:50


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Next Generation aircraft carrier
CVN-78 artist depiction [Photo/File photo]

The United States has begun a new generation of Ford-class aircraft carrier construction. There are three planned at an estimated $8 billion apiece for construction costs, and the first ship entered service in about 2014.

Each will be incorporated with such technologies as a new electromagnetic catapult rather than the steam variety, more powerful nuclear reactors, newer intergraded radar and electronic warfare measures, and extensive use of automation to reduce crew requirements and costs.

Carriers of the Ford class will incorporate fourteen new design features including:

Advanced arresting gear.

Automation, which reduces crew requirements by several hundred from the Nimitz class carrier.

The updated RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow missile system.

AN/SPY-3 dual-band radar (DBR), as developed for Zumwalt class destroyers.

An Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) in place of traditional steam catapults for launching aircraft.

A new nuclear reactor design (the A1B reactor) for greater power generation.

Stealthier features to help reduce radar profile.

The ability to launch the F-35C Lightning II.

The US Navy believes that with the addition of the most modern equipment and extensive use of automation, it will be able to reduce the crew requirement and the total cost of future aircraft carriers. The primary recognition feature compared to earlier supercarriers will be the more aft location of the navigation "island".