Work on the first of a new class of US aircraft carrier, designed to maintain America’s superiority in naval power-projection for the next four decades, has ground to a halt after problems with its magnetic lifts meant it was unable to hoist armaments on to its flight deck.
The 11 special weapon-carrying lifts designed for the US Navy’s new $13 billion super-carrier USS Gerald R Ford should have been bigger, better and significantly faster than the cable lifts now in use.
But only two of the lifts, which cost $4.5 million each, have been installed. A team of experts has been called in to try to resolve technical issues that have afflicted the navy’s most expensive warship programme.
The lifts play a crucial role in a carrier’s operational life, bringing up munitions from the lower decks to arm its jets, either the new F-35 joint strike fighters or F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, and their speed directly affects how many missions can be flown.
In theory the electromagnetic lifts on the Gerald R Ford should be capable of lifting 24,000lbs of weapons at 150ft per minute, compared with the present cable lifts on the Nimitz class carrier, which can move 10,000lbs of munitions at 100ft per minute.
A spokesman for US naval sea systems command said the “advanced weapons elevators” had been developed on board the ship without any land-based prototype. The first two installed had revealed problems with the doors and hatches, as well as software issues. The lift was a “first-of-kind development” and “physical adjustments” had been required to ensure it moved up and down smoothly, he said. (end of excerpt)
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