The US Navy is just months away from adding the most expensive warship in history to its fleet, the $13 billion USS Gerald Ford.
The USS Ford, the lead ship of the new Ford-class aircraft-carrier series, is expected to join the US Navy in early 2016, according to CNN. Once deployed, the ship will be among the largest carriers ever to ply the seas and will feature a number of changes and advancements over the US’ current Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
Here’s a look at this multibillion-dollar beast:
The USS Gerald Ford is expected to cost upward of $13 billion by the time it is deployed.
The Ford, and the Ford-class of aircraft carrier, is intended to relieve stress and overdeployment within the US Navy. Currently, the Navy operates 10 carriers but wants an additional vessel to take pressure off of the rest of the fleet.
The ship will feature a host of changes over the Nimitz-class carrier. Ford-class carriers will be capable of generating three times more electrical power than the older carrier classes, for example.
This increased power supply allows the Ford to run more cutting-edge hardware. The newly designed Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) will allow the vessel to launch 25% more aircraft a day than the previous steam-powered launch systems.
The amount of electricity onboard also makes Ford-class carriers ideal candidates to field laser and directed-energy weapons in the future, like rail guns and missile interceptors.
Once launched, the Ford will be among the largest warships in the world. It will be 1,092 feet long and displace upward of 100,000 tons.
This size will allow the carrier to house about 4,400 staff and personnel while carrying more than 75 aircraft.
The Ford is expected to carry F-35s and, and carrier-based drone aircraft once they become available.
But for all the advances within the Ford-class carrier group, some have questioned the wisdom of continuing an astronomically expensive carrier-heavy naval strategy in a time when interstate warfare is rare and nations like China are working on potentially carrier-killing long-range antiship cruise missiles.
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