05:29 GMT16 May 2021
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    The most expensive aircraft carrier in the arsenal of the United States, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is coming under review due to concerns about the vessel’s effectiveness.

    A review of the $12.9 billion warship conducted earlier this month found that the USS Ford may be obsolete before it enters into service.

    "If the United States Navy is either unwilling or unable to conceptualize a carrier air wing that can fight on the first day of a high-end conflict, then the question becomes: Why should the American taxpayers shell out $13 billion for a Ford-class carrier?" Dave Majumdar wrote for the National Interest.

    But bizarrely, an effort to keep the carrier Ford on the cutting technological edge may have backfired.

    "With the benefit of hindsight, it was clearly premature to include so many unproven technologies [on the vessel]," Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, wrote in a memo, according to the Japan Times.

    This July 28, 2008 file photo shows USS Freedom, the first ship in the Navy's new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class.
    © AP Photo / Lockheed-Martin via U.S. Navy, File

    The new, unproven technologies include propulsion and electrical system components, launch and recover systems for aircraft, and radar "integration issues."

    "What we have to determine now is whether it is best to ‘stay the course’ or adjust our plans," the memo reads.

    A review is needed not only to solve inherent problems with the USS Ford, but to ensure that the second and third Ford-class ships aren’t built with the same errors. All told, the program is expected to cost roughly $42 billion.

    Speaking with the Japan Times, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Mike Kafka attempted to downplay the ship’s problems.

    "The USS Ford, like every first-of-class ship ever built, has and will continue to face challenges," he said.

    "However, the capabilities resident on Ford are needed now and in the future, and the Navy will continue to work hard to get Ford completed and into the fleet, paying close attention to both new and legacy systems."

    The Ford was expected to be delivered to the Navy at the end of the year, with worldwide operations beginning in 2021.

    "This date my need to be revised as we continue shipboard testing," Kafka acknowledged.


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