Congress Requires F-35 Support on Ford-Class Supercarriers

Source: Image: US Navy/Getty Images

The US Navy has been accepting delivery of unfinished carriers, including the inability to support F-35 figher planes, prompting lawmakers to take action.

The new generation of Ford-class supercarriers have been catching a lot of heat in recent months, and it looks like the issues are continuing to mount. Adding to the US Navy program’s cost overruns and delivery delays is the inability to carry the services new F-35 stealth attack fighters.

The Navy has been accepting new aircraft carriers with missing capabilities in an effort to skirt cost caps imposed by Congress, reports USNI. The plan was to spend more money later to add them.

That’s why the USS Gerald R. Ford and the future USS John F. Kennedy currently do not and will not have the ability to support F-35 fighter jets until post-delivery modifications have been made.

“CVN-79 will not be able to deploy with F-35s when it's delivered to the Navy," a congressional staffer told reporters, adding that it’s "unacceptable to our members that the newest carriers can't deploy with the newest aircraft.”

This prompted lawmakers to intervene with new legislation. The House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces added a line to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which is ongoing legislation, that requires the USS John F. Kennedy to be capable of deploying F-35s before the Navy takes delivery of it.

Other lawmakers have proposed amending the cost caps on these supercarriers, which is likely something that the Navy welcomes.

The Ford-class supercarriers have faced numerous challenges in their development, including non-functioning advanced weapons elevators, difficulties over its electromagnetic aircraft launch system (technology the president wants to put an end to), and its propulsion system. Almost everything about this aircraft carrier has problems.

However, on the bright side, the USS Gerald Ford completed the final development test of its integrated combat management system earlier this week. The ship’s self-defense systems successfully located, classified, tracked and engaged two anti-ship missile surrogate targets. Now it just needs to get everything else on track.

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Contributing Editor

A hardened survivor of the games press, Jeremy Parish has written, edited, and podcasted for AllGamers, Retronauts, USgamer, IGN, 1UP, Electronic Gaming Monthly, GameDaily.biz, and more.