Currently, the Navy does not have an aircraft carrier — either Ford-class or Nimitz-class — that can support the service’s most advanced fighters for a full deployment, service officials told USNI News on Thursday.
Earlier this week, lawmakers expressed their frustration with the Navy for accepting delivery of Ford-class carriers before they can accommodate deploying with F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, while considering the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. But the Navy currently doesn’t have a Nimitz-class carrier that can deploy with F-35Cs either.
“The Nimitz-class and Ford-class aircraft carriers, by design, can operate with F-35Cs, however, there are modifications to both carrier classes that are required in order to fully employ the capabilities of the F-35s and enable them to be more effective on a full-length deployment,” Capt. Daniel Hernandez, a Navy spokesman, said in an email to USNI News.
The modifications required to make each aircraft carrier class able to deploy with F-35Cs don’t require a fundamental redesign of either class. Hernandez described the modifications as involving work to support the long-term deployment of F-35Cs, such as adding classified spaces to the carriers and installing more robust jet blast deflectors. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the USNI News website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: To find out at this late stage that the US Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers cannot deploy with F-35C fighters is, to say the least, unexpected, given that the F-35 has been under development for 20-odd years, and that during this time several carriers have gone through major overhauls during which the required modifications could, and should, have been made.
But to discover that no provisions for F-35C deployments were made on the Ford-class carriers, which were designed well after the F-35 program was launched, demonstrates a level of institutional ineptitude that is almost criminal.
There is as yet no public estimate of the cost of the required modifications to either class of carrier, but since they are likely to affect the flight deck, munitions storage areas, classified briefing and IT work areas, and others obviously to accommodate special engine change bays and ALIS, the cost is likely to run into the tens of millions for each ship.)