WASHINGTON --- The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee urged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis not to delay “shock testing” intended to determine how well its new $12.9 billion aircraft carrier can withstand an attack.
Mattis is weighing a Navy request to delay the test on the USS Gerald R. Ford for at least six years, until delivery of a second carrier in the $45.7 billion program. The test was ordered in 2015 by then-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and is scheduled to occur in 2019. The USS John F. Kennedy, second carrier in the three-ship program, isn’t scheduled for delivery until September 2024. The Navy hopes to have the Ford ready for initial combat duty in 2022.
This year’s defense policy bill gave Mattis the discretion to waive the test, which would help the Navy’s push to have an 11-carrier fleet ready to deploy as soon as possible. Republican committee chairman John McCain of Arizona and ranking Democrat Jack Reed of Rhode Island are urging Mattis to stick to the current test schedule for the Ford, known as the CVN 78. They both pushed for the tests in 2015. (end of excerpt)
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