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The modifications now under way, which Navy developers specify, are in part intended to increase the attack capabilities of aircraft carriers in the open sea.
The US Navy is making “modifications” to improve the lethality of its next two new Ford-class aircraft carriers , to include weapon-oriented vessel adjustments with the intention of further increasing the overall effectiveness of the combat aircraft carrier.
According to Navy statements, the initiatives involve specific aircraft carrier modifications aimed, among other things, at improving the maritime combat potential of how an aircraft carrier integrates with the F-35C and MQ-25 Stingray fighter fuel re-supplier. that will arrive soon .
These modifications now under way, which Navy developers specify, do not include changes in the F-35C or in the Stingray itself, are in part intended to increase the attack capabilities of aircraft carriers in the open sea .
All this is enabled by a purchase of two Ford class aircraft carriers. Instead of rigorous verification or separate purchases for its next two operators, the Navy has awarded a contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries to build both the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80) and the fourth operator of the Ford class, still unnamed , CVN. 81
In addition to the expected cost savings of more than $ 4 billion associated with the block purchase, the Navy is also rationalizing the development of weapons and war technology with respect to how an aircraft carrier houses its weapons system F-35C, Mk 38 and MQ-25 Stingray unmanned aircraft.
” These modifications increase the lethality of the Ford class and represent an additional saving of $ 100 million … since these modifications were not included in the Navy’s original estimate,” the Navy said in a statement.
These modifications to the carriers themselves, described as measures to improve “lethality”, seem to be part of the Navy’s broader strategy to massively increase the offensive and defensive warfare systems for its Ford class aircraft carriers. So far, some of these measures include the planned addition of defense systems with torpedoes now in development, interceptor missiles and the introduction of highly impactful platforms such as the F-35C and the MQ-25 Stingray.
Part of these modifications also include the introduction of digital shipbuilding techniques.
” Integrated digital ship construction (iDS) is key to achieving the production efficiency of the purchase of two CVNs . The Navy and the shipbuilder are investing in iDS, which will reduce the amount of production effort required to build the aircraft carriers of the Ford class, William Couch, the spokesman for the command of naval marine systems, told Warrior Maven .
The simplification of the integration of these platforms, as declared by the Navy, could bring a series of substantial improvements, and align with the strategy of the Navy to better prepare its aircraft carriers for war. The F-35C will naturally bring a new range of attack options for the Airline’s Air Wing, not to mention an unprecedented measure of Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Air Surveillance (ISR) . By using a new sensor and new guidance technology, the range of the airstrike will change significantly, and stealth technology will allow the airstrike to operate in higher threat environments, such as areas containing advanced air defenses. It is expected that the arrival of the F-35C, according to all estimates, will change the air strike paradigm.
The goal of these improvements is to work in parallel and benefit from the emergence of a first-class refueling drone that offers the promise of potentially doubling the attack radius for fighters launched by aircraft carriers.
The ability to refuel while in flight greatly expands an attempt by shippers to project more power , while maintaining a more secure separation distance. If the combat radius of an F-18 or F-35, in a fuel tank, reaches 300 to 400 miles or less, the plane will have to turn around a certain distance from your airline. However, if an attack platform can double that range, it can naturally travel much farther, allowing much more “dwell time” when dealing with attacks and providing the option of attacking targets further inland or from a distance. bigger.
With the clear intention to improve the presence of attacks at the world level of the Navy, the shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls issued a statement that the purchase of two ships is essential to update the planned expansion of the Navy fleet. The simplified acquisition, says HII, can bring the Navy closer to a path to a fleet of 12 companies.
A statement from HII at the time of the granting of the purchase of 2 aircraft carriers ” is a triumphant step to return to an aircraft carrier fleet of 12 ships and build the 355 ships our nation needs, ” said Jennifer Boykin , president of Newport News Shipbuilding , in a company statement. “The most important thing for us is that it provides stability in 2032 for our workforce and for our business suppliers in the United States.”
HII adds that the two ships are scheduled to be delivered in 2028 and 2032, respectively.
Therefore, it goes without saying that the rationalization of the acquisition and integration of these systems is aligned with an aggressive impulse from the Navy so that carriers are more capable of fighting. This strategy seems to have some possible dimensions. While aircraft carriers often operate in Career Attack Groups surrounded by cruisers, destroyers and other warships capable of providing protection, it is expected that a rapidly changing threat environment creates the need for more dispersed or disaggregated operations. In short, aircraft carriers will need greater attack and defensive technology . For this reason, the service not only seeks to streamline and accelerate the arrival of the F-35C and the refuelling aircraft, but also brings new weapons such aslasers, weapons, electronic warfare and new systems of defense interception .
All this refers to a much discussed phenomenon that characterizes the operators of the Navy for quite some time, namely, that the most far-reaching anti-aircraft missiles, the attacks with unmanned aircraft, the SE and the laser threats of possible adversaries change. the equation with respect to where the aircraft carriers may need to operate. Observers have said that new weapons, such as the Chinese DF-26 anti-aircraft missile, supposedly capable of travelling up to 900 miles and other emerging threats, radically change the way aircraft carriers will need to operate, making them potentially less able to attack. and defend yourself. However, Navy leaders and developers often say “not so fast,” noting that Emerging weapons and carrier defenses will allow them to operate where they need it . Naturally, they do not offer many details, for safety reasons, but there is a series of rapidly emerging weapons that dramatically improve the Navy’s “layered” defense system.