The USS Gerald Ford, America’s first aircraft carrier of the new Ford class, is in Norway on her first official mission. The American naval presence in Oslo has annoyed Russia, but the truth is that it is not a new scenario on the European map. The US Navy has maintained a constant presence of aircraft carriers in this area since December 2021, when the US secret services detected a very large movement of Russian troops stationed near the border with Ukraine.
At that time, December 2021, the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman changed course and instead of going through the Suez Canal to move to the Middle East, it headed by express order of the Pentagon towards the eastern Mediterranean. From there she left for Lithuania completing a total of 65,000 nautical miles. She is now in the United States and she has been taken over by the most modern ship today, the USS Gerald Ford.
After a month off, Europe is once again under the umbrella of US aircraft carriers. However, the nature of the Gerald Ford journey is completely different since its 23 new systems compared to the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers are in their infancy, so experts consider that this journey will be focused on finding technical solutions used in its construction. , assures the Konflikty medium. “This ship and her crew are transforming the capabilities of our navy and powering the future of naval aviation,” said the carrier’s Commander, Rick Burgess.
Actually, the Ford made a first operational voyage between October and November of last year to participate in a series of exercises with ships with allies in the North Atlantic, including the frigate Álvaro de Bazán. However, on that occasion the aircraft carrier embarked without its full air potential, without exceeding 80% of its capacity. On this occasion she sails with more than 80 aircraft on her fabulous platform with one exception. Fifth-generation F-35Cs are not on board, and the fighter likely won’t be integrated until 2025.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is 332.8 meters long and has a displacement of 100,000 tons with a nuclear propulsion system. She is the most modern ship in the US Navy and can accommodate 4,500 crew members, 90 fighters (15 more than the Nimitz class) and helicopters. The cost of the Ford came to $13.2 billion, nearly $3 billion over budget.
One of the upgrades featured by the USS Ford is the so-called sortie generation rate, which refers to the rate at which the ship is able to send aircraft into the air, re-embark them, and restore combat readiness. The US Navy ensures that this rate is 30% higher with the USS Ford (160 aircraft in twelve hours) compared to those of the Nimitz class (120 takeoffs in the same period of time). Until now, Ford has suffered from problems related to this capability that directly affects the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS),
one of the newer technologies of future Ford-class aircraft carriers, replacing older steam catapults. This new system allows one plane to be launched every 45 seconds.
The strike group in which USS Gerald Ford is integrated consists of the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Normandy and the destroyers USS Ramage, USS McFaul and USS Thomas Hudner. On operational cruises like this one, each aircraft carrier is also accompanied by a multi-role submarine, but its presence is often kept secret and its name is not mentioned on the official escort list. The embarked air wing (8th Deck Wing) is composed of:
VFA 37 “Ragin’ Bulls” on Super Hornets VFA 213 “Blacklions” on Super Hornets VFA 87 “Guerreros Dorados” on Super Hornets VFA 31 “Tomcatters” on Super Hornets VAQ 142 “Gray Wolves” VAW 124 “Bear Aces” on Hawkeyes VRC 40 “Rawhides” on Greyhounds HSM 70 “Spartans” on MH-60R HSC 9 “Trident” on MH-60S
The Pentagon aims to have ten Ford-class aircraft carriers in service in the next few decades. At the moment it has the Gerald Ford and the Kennedy, launched in 2019 but has not yet entered service. To date, three new Ford aircraft carriers have been approved for construction: the USS Enterprise, the USS Doris Miller and the as-yet-unnamed CVN 82.