America’s New Ford Carrier Class Is Flawed Junk That Will Be Impossible to Rely On

"The design is fundamentally and irrevocably flawed from a maintenance perspective.  The entire carrier must be powered down to work on any single component"

“Meaning that the ship has to stay within reach of land divert bases so as not to lose aircraft when EMALS and AAG failures occur”

The Navy has, essentially, stopped releasing any data or information on the Ford, even to DOT&E which has noted that the Navy is no longer providing EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) and AAG (Advanced Arresting Gear) performance and reliability data.

That leaves us to infer the state of the Ford so …  let’s do some inferring!

EMALS

How is EMALS coming along?  Well, you’ll recall that the last data we had from DOT&E, before the Navy stopped providing data – which should, itself, infer something negative about the system – , showed that the system was failing at a staggering rate.

Out of 747 shipboard launches performed with the EMALS, ten had suffered critical failures. The target reliability average was one critical failure per 4,166 launch cycles. The launch system is over 50 times less reliable than the target failure rate. Every time they try to launch the full complement of airplanes they will have a critical failure. 

The landing system also fails every 70-75 times it is used. This is over 200 times less reliable than planned. General Atomics engineers made it impossible to repair the AAG landing failures without shutting down flight operations. The AAG power supply can’t be disconnected from the high-voltage supply while flights continue. (link)

Is the EMALs doing any better, now?

Ford’s EMALS experienced a crash over the summer [June 2020], prohibiting the carrier from performing flight operations for five days. (link)

… the ship’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) suffered a failure that prevented the carrier from launching planes for five days …

On June 2, the crew discovered a fault in the power handling system that connects the ship’s energy-generating turbines to the EMALS power system.

“After several days of troubleshooting and assessing a fault in the launch system’s power handling elements, embarked EMALS experts and Ford’s crew restored the system to enable the safe fly-off of the air wing on Sunday morning, June 7… (link)

As we have previously noted, the interconnected nature of the catapults assures that if one goes down, they all go down and this was case in this incident.  It is also noteworthy that it required several days of troubleshooting to restore the system enough to fly off the air wing.  The wording seems to suggest that the restoration was a temporary fix although that is far from clear.

It is also worth noting the presence of ‘embarked EMALS experts’ which would not normally be present during routine operations.  This has two implications:

  • That the troubleshooting and repair was likely beyond the capabilities of the Navy crew.  This does not bode well for combat damage repair efforts.

  • That the presence of embarked experts absolutely indicates that the EMALS is still not working correctly and reliably or else the experts would not need to be on the ship three years into its commissioning and during pre-deployment workups and trials which should be about training for naval operations rather than still struggling to get the EMALS system to perform at basic, contract-mandated levels of reliability.

The inference from the above is that EMALS is still woefully short of contract-mandated levels of performance and reliability. 

AAG

Okay, what about the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system?

Capt. Josh Sager, the commanding officer of Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW-8), said Nov. 17 that Ford had all three of its AAG wires operating with no issues for the preceding four to six days.

Cummings [Commanding Officer Capt. J.J. Cummings] described the reliability for both the Dual Band Radar and AAG as getting better throughout every at-sea period.

The fact that Capt. Sager thought it noteworthy enough to publicly state that the AAG had worked for ‘the preceding four to six days’ suggests that this level of performance is exceptional and should be noted.  Proudly noting that the landing gear worked for a few days in a row is extremely worrisome.  It suggests that this is not the norm.

That Capt. Cummings described the reliability of the AAG as ‘getting better throughout every at-sea period’ again strongly suggests that the AAG is a major problem, though slowly improving.

The inference, here, is that the AAG is still woefully short of contract-mandated reliability levels and is at a barely functional level.

Overall, how is the Ford doing with launches and recoveries?

Since the beginning of 2020, Ford has conducted 5,000 launches and recoveries of aircraft – most of which the crew has done in the last eight months — and is slated to achieve 6,000 by the end of this calendar year, Cummings said.

The question, of course, is not how many total launches and recoveries have been performed but how many have been done between catapult and arresting system failures.  What is the failure rate?  The evidence suggests that the failure rate is still far greater than specified and is likely to continue to be a problem for a few more years, at least.  This is extremely worrisome if the Ford should ever be called to combat.

The evidence suggests that the Ford is not capable of reliable, sustained open ocean launch/recoveries, meaning that the ship has to stay within reach of land divert bases so as not to lose aircraft when EMALS and AAG failures occur.  Three years into commissioning, this is inexcusable and everyone associated with this program should be fired.

Weapon Elevators

So much for launch and recover.  What about those disastrous weapon elevators?

With the seventh of 11 weapons elevators slated for certification before the end of this calendar year, … the remaining four will be completed by the end of April 2021. Newport News Shipbuilding has 200 shipyard workers aboard the carrier to aid in finishing the elevators …

How bad are these elevators that 200 specialist workers are working on them 24/7 and the best projection is that they’ll be ready by the middle of 2021?  What does this suggest for battle damage repair when the Ford doesn’t have 200 weapon elevator engineers on board?

Summary

Ford is in bad shape with major systems failing to meet specification.  The worst aspect of the Ford’s launch and recovery issues is that the design is fundamentally and irrevocably flawed from a maintenance perspective.  The individual catapults and arresting gear cannot be electrically isolated and worked on.  The entire carrier must be powered down to work on any single component.

DOT&E FY 2019 Annual Report, 20-Dec-2019

The reliability concerns are exacerbated by the fact that the crew cannot readily electrically isolate EMALS components during flight operations due to the shared nature of the Energy Storage Groups and Power Conversion Subsystem inverters on board CVN 78. The process for electrically isolating equipment is time-consuming; spinning down the EMALS motor/generators takes 1.5 hours by itself. The inability to readily electrically isolate equipment precludes EMALS maintenance during flight operations.

The reliability concerns are magnified by the current AAG design that does not allow electrical isolation of the Power Conditioning Subsystem equipment from high power buses, limiting corrective maintenance on below-deck equipment during flight operations.

This issue will continue to plague Ford throughout its service life since it is not correctable.  This also renders the Ford highly suspect as a viable combat unit.  If this design flaw has been continued into the subsequent ships of the class, we are building a class of carriers that has very poor damage repair capability and can be rendered combat incapable by minor battle damage or even simple, routine electrical or mechanical failures.

Absent any information from the Navy, we are left to quite reasonably infer that the Ford is a floating pile of hot, steaming excrement.  If the Navy would have us believe otherwise then they need to resume releasing performance and reliability data to DOT&E and the public.  The clamp down on data pretty much tells us just how bad the situation is and is reminiscent of the Navy’s response to the epidemic of INSURV failures which led to the Navy classifying the results instead of fixing them.



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ke4ram
ke4ram
1 month ago

The MIC provides products to sell. Work? Maybe,,, after many expensive repairs and upgrades. And in a “serious” war with an equal foe… these will be useless. Like Raptar Driver posted…. for profit only.

cechas vodobenikov
cechas vodobenikov
1 month ago

amerikans have been liars and braggarts for 3 centuries
Daniel boorstin
now reported 75 West Point students caught cheating

Bill the eighth
Bill the eighth
1 month ago

They had a communist in their midst a couple of years ago too.

Grim Fandango
Grim Fandango
1 month ago

That’s because the smart ones didn’t get caught

Grim Fandango
Grim Fandango
1 month ago

Total corruption throughout the whole design and build process, in all US weapons platforms.

Greed and corruption has been glorified, and raised to a level never seen before. I would not want to be a sailor on the Ford Class, the Littoral Combat Ship, or even worse, a pilot on the woeful F-35 Lightning.

Bill the eighth
Bill the eighth
1 month ago
Reply to  Grim Fandango

Agreed, but I think you can say that about pretty much all of the modern weapons systems.

ke4ram
ke4ram
1 month ago
Reply to  Grim Fandango

The Littoral’s are a literal POS.

David Bedford
David Bedford
1 month ago
Reply to  ke4ram

I see what you did there, literally unheard of LOL

Canosin
Canosin
1 month ago

it makes me smile….thinking back on the derision about the Russian Carrier Admiral Kuszenow from the UK Royal Navy, the American Navy and their related presstitutes…..now, who has the real junk in their Navies??? who is now laughing at last??
Russia will bring back their carrier like a splendid and powerful shiny Phoenix…..hopefully then sailing along the Gulf of Mexico……just for fun….

Bill the eighth
Bill the eighth
1 month ago
Reply to  Canosin

I see you fail to remember the US has 10 functioning carriers as of right now.

Canosin
Canosin
1 month ago

that’s the point….its long time ago the US was capable in many fields……now not anymore…..whereas Russia and China reversed the situation to their advantages

David Bedford
David Bedford
1 month ago
Reply to  Canosin

America is not the America that it used to be, their time of being #1 is slowly coming to an end.

Canosin
Canosin
1 month ago
Reply to  David Bedford

its accelerating……the decline is already unstoppable …..the status of being the #1 is gone…puff….over

Bill the eighth
Bill the eighth
1 month ago
Reply to  Canosin

Well then it is a sad day for the entire world. If America falls so does the rest of the planet and the totalitarian NWO jackboots will be stomping on human necks forever.

Incredulously Yours,
Incredulously Yours,
1 month ago
Reply to  Canosin

FAIL.

Bill the eighth
Bill the eighth
1 month ago
Reply to  Canosin

You don’t really think either China or Russia could beat the US in a war do you? If they joined forces maybe.

Raptar Driver
Raptar Driver
1 month ago

This is what happens when the only thing you’re concerned about is profit.

Saint Jimmy (Russian American)
Saint Jimmy (Russian American)
1 month ago
Reply to  Raptar Driver

….aaaand we have a winner.

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
1 month ago

We wish.

Saint Jimmy (Russian American)
Saint Jimmy (Russian American)
1 month ago

Yeah but I only intended to say that he gave the right answer with one brief sentence.

Rap Reynolds
Rap Reynolds
1 month ago

What was wrong with the old systems? What problem were they trying to solve with these new systems? Likely the problem was the MIC got more money out of a totally new design, and now more to fix its flaws.

ke4ram
ke4ram
1 month ago
Reply to  Rap Reynolds

Like everything else,,, they update just to update. With these electronic systems they just want to boast but America doesn’t have the first class engineers needed. They are either imported or chosen domestically by wokness. You don’t get first rate products with third rate engineers.

Undecider
Undecider
1 month ago
Reply to  ke4ram

Common Core has put American engineering to pasture.

David Grace
David Grace
1 month ago
Reply to  ke4ram

Very well said

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
1 month ago

https://www.darrinqualman.com/energy-use-in-modern-food-systems/

An introduction to food EROI (Energy Return On Investment).
It adds to one’s understanding of regime change and why most nations field a significant regional and global military presence.

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
1 month ago

An unmitigated waste of energy (in all forms) and human resources.

voza0db
1 month ago

Who cares?!

The only thing that matters is to KEEP THE FLOW OF MONEY INTO the MIC and to the pockets of generals and admirals!

XRGRSF
XRGRSF
1 month ago

Who cares; the check has cleared the bank, the sailors have been assigned, the officers have been posted, and the MIC is far richer than it was before. Now let’s see how much more we can spend upgrading, and maintaining this sea slug ?

Undecider
Undecider
1 month ago

From the film Robocop (1987):

Dick Jones: “I had a guaranteed military sale with ED209! Renovation program! Spare parts for 25 years! Who cares if it worked or not!

BADGER BADGERISM (GRANDWORLDDR
BADGER BADGERISM (GRANDWORLDDR
1 month ago

and so…IN A WAR….

archer
archer
1 month ago

There was never a reason to build the Ford class to begin with, total waste of money that could endanger the sailors and pilots working on them.

Vampire Jesus
1 month ago

I would like to be whitelisted, please.

Vampire Jesus
1 month ago

Carriers are good for perhaps thirty minutes in a nuclear war; subs for perhaps an hour.

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