GAO Blasts Navy’s Ford-Class Carrier Program

GAO Blasts Navy’s Ford-Class Carrier Program

Citing cost-growth, technological immaturity and schedule delays with the Navy’s Ford-class carrier program, a government watchdog has recommended the Pentagon re-examine requirements and testing and conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

The Sept. 5 report, titled “Ford Class Carriers: Lead Ship Testing and Reliability Shortfalls Will Limit Initial Fleet Capabilities,” claims construction of the first-in-class ship — the USS Gerald Ford — has resulted in a 22 percent cost increase since 2008. The report cites the cost at $12.8 billion.

In addition, the report questions the testing procedures and technological maturity of certain key systems on the Ford carrier, such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, a next-generation catapult technology engineered to replace the current steam catapults.

“The Navy has achieved mixed progress to date developing CVN 78’s critical technologies, such as a system intended to more effectively launch aircraft from the ship,”  the report states. “Additional (cost) increases could follow due to uncertainties facing critical technology systems and shipbuilder underperformance.”

Navy officials countered the report and praised the progress contained in EMALS, saying the technology is showing promise.

“This allows pilots to launch and land with heavier aircraft, enabling the launch of lighter unmanned aircraft in the future. A secondary benefit of the electromagnetic aircraft launching system and advanced arresting gear is the ability to apply launch and recovery forces more evenly, producing less stress on the airframe and potentially saving on aircraft maintenance,” Rear Adm. Tom Moore, the Navy’s program executive officer for carriers, said in a written statement.

Prior GAO reports and Congressional inquiries regarding construction of the Ford have raised concerns about cost growth, availability of certain parts and schedule slips.

“Progress in constructing CVN 78 has been overshadowed by inefficient out-of-sequence work, driven largely by material shortfalls, engineering challenges, and delays developing and installing critical technology systems,” the report states.

GAO recommended that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel direct the secretary of the navy to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on various aspects of the platform. For example, they want to examine the technologies resulting in an improved sortie-generation rate and reduced manning on the ship through greater automation.

The recommendations also suggest that the Navy seek requirements relief from the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, a Pentagon body dedicated to guiding acquisition and requirements.

Authors of the report recommend that the Navy report the findings of its analysis to Congress within 30-days of the commissioning of the USS Ford.

The Ford is currently finishing construction and slated for a christening ceremony this coming November. After entering the water this fall, the USS Ford is slated for additional testing and sea trials before entering service in 2016.

Unlike the Nimitz-class carriers which preceded them, the Ford-class carriers are built with EMALS, dual-band radar, more automation, upgraded nuclear power plants and a larger flight deck to increase the sortie rate, Navy officials have told Military​.com.

Navy officials said they welcome input from the GAO and that they stand by the Ford-class carrier program.

“The Ford-class carrier program will build on the performance of the Nimitz-class carriers and provide 25-percent more combat capability, increased service life margins throughout the ship to handle aircraft and weapons systems of the future including unmanned aircraft and futuristic directed energy weapons,” Lt. Caroline Hutcheson, Navy spokeswoman said.

Hutcheson also added that the improved automation and other new technologies on the Ford-class will result in $4 billion in savings over the 50-year life of a ship.

However, the GAO report expressed concern about the readiness of some of the technologies being built into the USS Ford.

“In an effort to meet required installation dates aboard CVN 78, the Navy has elected to produce some of these systems prior to demonstrating their maturity–a strategy that GAO’s previous work has shown introduces risk of late and costly design changes and rework, and leaves little margin to incorporate additional weight growth in the ship,” the report says.

Navy officials said some of the costs and cost growth experienced with the USS Ford are one-time, first-in-class costs which will not recur. In fact, Navy program officials and shipbuilders with Huntington Ingalls Industries explained that many lessons from USS Ford construction are being applied to the initial efforts to build the second Ford-class carrier now also under construction, the USS John F. Kennedy or CVN 79.  The USS Kennedy is slated to enter service in 2025.

Regarding CVN 79, the GAO report said “the shipbuilder plans to employ a new, more efficient build strategy, but remaining technical and design risks with the lead ship could interfere with the Navy’s ability to achieve its desired cost savings for CVN 79. These uncertainties also affect the soundness of the Navy’s current CVN 79 cost estimate, which is optimistic.”

As a result, the GAO is recommending that the Navy delay or defer its “detail, design and construction” contract award for the Kennedy. As part of its formal response to the GAO in the Sept. 5 report, DoD did not concur with this recommendation.

In fact, ship builders and Navy program officials maintained that a delay in the contract to continue construction on the Kennedy may wind up resulting in unwanted cost increases. Furthermore, executives at Huntington Ingalls Industries have told Military​.com that they have all the materials in place to continue construction of the Kennedy.

The Navy’s fiscal year 2014 budget request includes $945 million to finance design and construction of the Kennedy as well as $588 million to build the Ford.

Some 300 pieces of the USS Kennedy have already been built, according to Moore.

“I fully expect we will build Kennedy for a billion [dollars] less than we built Ford,” Moore said in a July interview with Military​.com. “We’re already taking significant steps. We’ve got a plan in place but we’re not done — we need to continue to do better. I spend many waking hours working with the ship builder and we are not done looking at new ways to build that ship more affordably. This is a continuous process.”

Congressman Randy Forbes — R-Va., Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee said he too would like to see cost savings and lessons learned from the Ford applied to Kennedy construction.

“I am committed to exercising vigorous oversight of the program — including driving additional cost savings and lessons learned from CVN-78 into the CVN-79 program — to ensure the nation can retain the robust power projection capabilities found in our carrier fleet,” he said in an emailed statement.

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Maybe the new Idea’s of “Lets shove every bit if technology we want for the next decade into one Key program making it impossible to cut the funding for them” and “Hey lets save money by slowing carrier production more…so it cost a few billion more than it needs to…but we can save money this quarter…” Need to be looked at.

So How much is a single ford + F-35C contingent going to cost?

Years ago our Congress supported President Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Program. Now I believe he is looking down and shaking his head in disgust at the spectacle of military sequester by certain factions within his Grand Old Party.

The Navy nearly broke their bank developing the nuclear powered sub and the sub-launched Polaris missiles fifty or more years ago. These are now very mature technologies that have proven their value innumerable times over the decades since their incorporation into the fleet. Certainly, the initial development of a technology is going to be expensive and there is no guarantee that any particular technology will evolve to the desired level of utility but failure to pursue technologies simply for the sake of relying on existing ones would have us sailing around in wooden ships while everyone else is building ironclads.

The F-35’s sky high price is killing the carrier budget: http://​www​.bizjournals​.com/​w​a​s​h​i​n​g​t​o​n​/​b​l​o​g​/​f​e​d​biz

The budget for the carrier is going to come into conflict with that of the F-35 eventually.

Stuff like this makes me wonder if the People’s Liberation Army Navy is getting a better return for their money then us?

There was no such thing as “StarWars” it was a ploy. The cost was as much as the props that were used to make the Russians believe that it existed.

It is almost like the contractors involved make more money the longer they delay the development and construction of this ship. Almost.

When you get into new technology, you are getting into blind territory. Back in the 60s, I was working in research and development on one type of aircraft. We knew the system was completely working, but the radar was not getting anywhere near the range that they had hoped for. So we downed all of the birds for a week as two antenna specialists came in to check it all out. they found out that the system WAS working perfectly, and it was just a matter of no one knowing how to work it correctly. So after they showed everyone what they had found, we saw that the system was getting 150% better range than expected, if you just worked it correctly. When working with new technology, sometimes you have to stop, step back, and just reexamine everything.

…than us?

Gotta figure that these civilian contractors look at a (any) contract with the federal government as being just another opportunity to screw the Amerian people (and the Navy) by charging whatever they want to get themselves rich. And all this under the transparent guise of false patriotism. That’s the way the Republicans REALLY think.

The only thing interesting in this ‘report on a report’ is the byline mysteriously changed.
The GAO report is no different than every other GAO report ever barfed up on a major acquisition program. Concurrency! Risk! Fear! Wait!. The End.
Clowns that have never built anything have no clue as to what is involved when building anything, let alone creating something completely new.

I used to be a computer consultant, basically a contract employee, who was paid by the hour. Of course, I worked in the private sector, and my approach was to produce as much as I possibly could at the highest quality for my clients. The logic for me was that as they saw the value they were getting for their dollar they would continually come up with new projects to throw at me. As Iearnt their business I sometimes would suggest improvements myself. This all resulted in long-term and very satisfied customers who kept on coming back for more.


Why doesn’t the GAO reference the fact that this ship is co-designed.….with help from EB Div. of GD? “In fact, Navy program officials and shipbuilders with Huntington Ingalls Industries explained that many lessons from USS Ford construction are being applied to the initial efforts to build the second Ford-class carrier now also under construction” it “re” shipbuilders.… which ones, & how much of the carrier & which systems are being co-designed by whom???? wow is the Navy bein’ Shady on the facts.…. I could say things that would spin all Nuc. USN members heads around.….. but alas.…. the censors.…. we’ve got to get back to the old way… NPNSB doin’ carrier work EB Div. of GD doin’ sub work etc.…. there just ain’t enough cake 2 go around!!!!!!

JAV.…You make a great point, but that was the birth of nuc powered subs & carriers, these are “mature” platforms.……whats diff. on the ford class, vs a vs the Nimitz, a “magnetic launcher” & a “new floor plan” there’s nothin new about this ship xcept the way its bein’ designed & built, the same goes for the VA class SSN’s can’t say anymore.…the censors.…. its just pouring money into what GEN E. warned us about!!!!!! never mind the “support structure” DA civ’s, multiple bases, all for a 287 ship Navy that’s shrinking…& “foward deployed”.….. the real truth must be told!!!

Because the DoD only signs contracts when Republicans are in charge? Or are you saying all defense contractors are Republicans?

We should be testing a lot of the automation technologies on something smaller and less critical than the next fifty years of navy carrier? I guess if we were going to retire the Big E, we might as well have set it aside for a massive teardown and rebuild to testbed new carrier technology. But I guess we’re in the hole on the Fords, so we will at least finish the first. It’s possible the Ford may become a one-off class. If the Ford class is one-offed, then it’s possible the Nimitz’s future is secure for a little longer; but I can’t imagine that we could retool from Fords back to Nimitz on a dime…There will be some kind of Ford spinoff, but I wonder what it would look like.

First-of-class is always the place to do that kind of proofing.…its the only way you get an operationally-relevent shakedown of the new kit working together as a whole ‘system-of-systems’. First-of-class is a bad place to judge a ship design on cost and maturity.…but theres nothing like a good kneejerking witch-hunt is there?

It is, but our Cold War history is full of one off-prototypes that weren’t sold as a future class of ships that would last for fifty years. The Navy has inconsistently prototyped some ideas but not others. I suppose the Triton doesn’t count as a prototype, since it was intended to be a production vessel that simply incorporated two reactors, which makes it a somewhat high risk project, but it would’ve used information from the design of the Nautilus and perhaps some intervening knowledge from Seawolf (liquid sodium reactor) and the Halibut (first SSGN).

It also has the side effect of “hiding” the R&D costs under a prototype, which makes final cost/unit of production units very favorable. It also keeps ships of a class relatively unified once you give designers time to “commit” to a semi-finalized design.

The B-2 cost a pile of money (for reasons we will perhaps never fully know) because R&D spiraled and people thought the way to arrest costs was to cut the unit buy (which is stupid). They gave a company with insufficient experience mass producing stealth aircraft the contract and got what they paid for. Then again, they assumed the learning curve of making flying wings was more expensive than making stealth aircraft.

To compensate for this, they did that “award contracts to both winners” for the Littoral Combat Ship just to see who could deliver good product. Answer? Didn’t work as anticipated.

Also of interest is the Navy’s Seawolf and the eventual Virginia-class spinoff. And on a historical note, the Enterprise was supposed to be first of a large class; and was the first American nuclear powered aircraft carrier. It also became a one-off due to unforseen costs. On big ships it’s tough to “demonstrate” the systems that are supposed to go into them, the best you can do is demonstrate things like the EMALS separately.

Oh wait, EMALS is still in the development process. If the program dies, you can’t just convert the Ford into a steam-catapult system.

CVNs are not “something completely new”.

The core CONOPS have not changed since _Enterprise_ first sailed under fission power.

This is evolution, not revolution, yet revolutionary prices are being charged.

They just need to leave this carrier alone and continue with the construction. I have been on the old one, “Big John”, when my son was attached to her and it was an amazing experience, one that I will never forget. JFK was my favorite president and when he found out that it was his first attachment, he was so excited when he called me. Yes, it was also called “The Rusty Bucket”, but new one will not be. I hope and pray that the costs of making it will not deter them from finishing it. We need our US Navy to be strong!!

Imagine you get a contract that says you get paid $1.15 for every $1.00 you spend working on, oh, let’s say developing a new ship. Now what approach do you take to maximize your profits? Welcome to the wonderful world of government contracting.

Didn’t think the Nautilus was such a money-buster? They did the right thing by developing the powerplants ashore and proving the concept worked in a shore-based installation before final prototyping and mass production.

I would bet that Polaris wasn’t cheap, but missile development in the early days wasn’t. All armed services were doing parallel development of ballistic and cruise missiles until the BM won the long-range game…wasn’t cheap.

How much?

A lot more money than the US Navy will be given to keep any single carrier battle group in forward-deployed active service.

Over the next decade, the budgetary choices will eventually come down to only two options: (1) Procure the F-35B and the F-35C and build no further CVNs after the Kennedy; or (2) Cancel the F-35B and the F-35C and continue building CVNs after the second Ford Class ship is delivered.

There is now only 20% commonality among the three F-35 versions. Canceling the F-35B and C models would free up funding for other critical USN needs.

After the B and C models are cancelled, if the USAF wants to continue with betting the long-term future of their service on the F-35A, let them do so.

Excellent point blight.….the sites of land based reactors are 4 trng purposes imho…The 1st Seawolf SSN 575 didn’t have a land based version & it was a radical new design.…scrapped & overhauled. But the “FORD” & now the follow on CVX will no doubt be racked w/cost over runs if we keep the current method of co-developin’ & co-producin’ them intact!

As 4 the “Polaris class sub’s” the “Geo. Washington class SSBN’s, they where basically a Scorpion class ship w/a missle compartment added.… not a “new” design ‘xlactly

There is a spin-off proposed & funded in intial stage the CVX! I can’t imagine what it will cost based on what is “floatin’ around on its design??

rebuilding a 51 year old nuclear carrier to use this technology would probably cost more than the new ford class does it was never designed to use that technology in the first place 50 years ago computers took up rooms now cell phones have more computing power than what was in the shuttles back then it is really hard to see what technology will become it could advance enough in 30 years that they get scrapped because they just aren’t compatible with new technology then

As much as I see more cons than pros of the whole F-35 program, it does leave questioning where our future naval airpower will be.
I would be hard-pressing Boeing to get one of those recently-announced enhanced Super Hornets to include the uprated engines to the 26,000pounds thrust class) made ready as soon as possible and get it into fleet testing (carrier qualifications), just to verify the system actually CAN offer what they’re advertising: the F-35 program has already shown that a contractor can take as long as they want to deliver even a substandard product that fails to meet original requirements.

The procurement cycle absolutely has to stop doing that: giving preferential treament to certain major contractors which in effect gives them all the leeway they want in manipulating around delivering on time and within budget.
That needs to end.
We need to move to a performance-based procurement system, not one that consistently rewards failures, delays, and the latest, “oh look, another unforeseen technical hurdle.”

“First-of-class is always the place to do that kind of proofing.…its the only way you get an operationally-relevent shakedown of the new kit working together as a whole ‘system-of-systems’”

Kind of agree, but kind of not.
Is there any legit reason why the USN couldn’t have been refining EM launch systems in numerous shore based installations?
Seems to me that naval air bases SHOULD be utilizing ground-based versions to further refine pilots’ skills.
And there would be greater ease of fixing issues as they arise in a land location where space (volume) for maintenance activities is not as restrictive as on ship.
Anywhere the Navy and Marines launch aircraft from land, they could incorporate ground-based cat launchers for pilot proficiency and proof-of-concept, let alone the addition of more experience with the systems and additional personnel with the training for supporting them.
Only legit reason is cost, it’s always cost.
But seems sensible enough: having several dozen land-based facilities set up around the world that mimic a carrier’s operational deck space seems an ideal training system, rather than always resorting to fullsize runways everywhere that take up huge chunks of the surrounding real state.

It would be more expensive to rebuild a old CV to use new technology…unless you are the United States. Sad but true.

Our problems are that the Navy doesn’t “turn over” ships quickly as they used to. During the Cold War you could build a technology, then follow up with the next version of the technology on the next batch of ships. We are now building (so we think) for fifty years out.

There are indeed carrier-shaped strips everywhere. I know of some near PCH near Oceanside. I know they use ground-mount catapults for tests, but putting them in NAS’ wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep pilot proficiency high.

That said, there are numerous other things which haven’t been proven, let alone integrated that will go into the Ford and be paid for by R&D. And the failure to develop, or integrate a system has downstream consequences on projected costs, timetables and capabilities.

I’m surprised we keep ships around as testbeds for small things like “self defense” but never thought to do so for the electronics fit. If we still had old Mk26 Ticos they could’ve been kept as SPY-1/AEGIS testbeds, but noo, they’re all gone now. Systems are tested ashore, but not at sea until the big day.

“That said, there are numerous other things which haven’t been proven, let alone integrated that will go into the Ford and be paid for by R&D.”

And it isn’t just weapons, radars, and other electronics. Those supermagnet motors supposed to be developed for Zumwalts, and whichever of the up-and-coming amphibs, those too have excellent land-based testing/eval opportunities, in the form of powerplants (for the civilian grid, or even feeding a military base).
What better way to test the long term durability of these latest-generation electrical engines than by running them continuously feeding a power grid, as they would on ship, for eeks, even months on end?
By comparison, I’m curious how long the USN actually tested its 1st reactors in similar fashion before determining they had sufficient durability and reliability for lontg-term shipborne use.

They like to argue the offshoots of military tech into the civilian sector: a latest generation of both nuclear reactors and electrical supermagnet motors would be of boon to the civilian power grid, if, only minimall,y powering up the numerous CONUS bases.

weeks, not eeks. :-P

If I was a bettin’ man…the “Ford” cost over-runs make it a “Seawolf” type platform!

Re the nuclear reactor program:

“Conceptual analysis of nuclear marine propulsion started in the 1940s. Research on developing nuclear reactors for the Navy was done at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania starting in 1948. Under the long-term leadership of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the first test reactor plant, a prototype referred to as S1W, started up in U.S. in 1953 at the Naval Reactors Facility in Idaho. Bettis Laboratory and Naval Reactors Facility were operated initially and for many decades afterwards by Westinghouse. The first nuclear-powered vessel, the submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571), put to sea in 1955. ”

Specialized research facilities in ’48. First prototype in ’53, first launch in ’55. It would suggest that the prototype was really just to test out the final design, and it’s possible that design work was underway elsewhere before establishing both reactor research facilities.

Nautilus’ contract awarded ’51, laid in ’52, launched in ’54, commission in ’55. This would suggest that the prototype in ’53 was very closely related to what went into the Nautilus.

In modern parlance Electric Boat would win the contract to build the submarine, subcontract out the nuclear power research and development and wait for the reactor design to finalize. And if there were cost overruns in reactor R&D it jeopardizes ship completion.

Cost overruns are good luck for a carrier. The Ford will serve as long as the USS Enterprise if you let the costs spiral and kill the program early. It’s an omen of long life!

Here’s to my one — commentor: “George Washington’s keel was laid down at Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Groton, Connecticut on 1 November 1957. The first of her class, she was launched on 9 June 1959 sponsored by Mrs. Robert B. Anderson, and commissioned on 30 December 1959 as SSBN-598 with Commander James B. Osborn in command of the Blue crew and Commander John L. From, Jr. in command of the Gold crew.
George Washington was originally laid down as the attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589). During construction, she was lengthened by the insertion of a 130 ft (40 m)-long ballistic missile section and renamed George Washington; another submarine under construction at the time received the original name and hull number. Inside George Washington’s forward escape hatch, a plaque remained bearing her original name. Because the ballistic missile compartment design of George Washington would be reused in later ship classes, the section inserted into George Washington was designed with a deeper test depth rating than the rest of the submarine.” I remember see’in that plaque.….…

The liquid sodium line followed the usual scheme of land-based prototype (S1G) before sea-based system (S2G). The Seawolf eventually got a S2W reactor (conventional type from Westinghouse).

kellogg: u make a great point.… The Army COE developed & fielded the SM-1 & SL-1 reactors as “portable” sources for elect. & steam starting in’54 same year the SSN 571 slid off the s.yard ways @ EB. The Navy did not build a S1W & experiment 1st with a land-based prototype?? We all know about SL-1 in Idaho, but the SM-1 @ FT. Belvoir was the first Rx to supply elect. to a civilian power grid. in ’57, so your spot on when mentioning mil. reserch & develop. has civilian “spin-off” tech. applications. In fact the development of nuc. pwr. resulted in a run-off betix the Army & Navy… now that we know of the PM-2A reactor @ Thule & Camp Century now declassed.…it supplied the Camp w/power & heat…but was scrapped because of the “uniqueness” of Greenlands Icecap. This small reactor technology could very well be part off “All of the above energy program”!

good point blight…The big E was designed to sail for what 20 yrs with the A1W’s??? But it was Slep’ed into a 50 y/o weapons platform.…. its designers are lookin down att us & a-smilin’ I think I read in AFJ or Proceedings that they want it kept in “reserve”???? can this be?

I agree EC, but do we NEED 12 CBG Plus 5–6 LHD’s + subs 4 protection & then the aux. ships 4 support & log???? What is the REAL # needed?? For the Air-Sea” battle concept?

The launch and retrieval systems, pretty much the most important systems of a carrier, are completely new (electrical instead of steam is revolutionary). Right now, as those systems are being developed, the costs are high. As they get refined, they will be more flexible than the old steam systems.

There’s more to the Fords than EMALS. They’re a big part, but not the only part of what makes the Fords superior to the Nims.

If the EMALS is so important, it’s likely the Navy would’ve waited for the technology to mature before starting the Fords. The EMALS is just one piece of the puzzle, and the Navy is more interested in everything else, which is probably further along than EMALS.

When it comes to push vs shove, expect your safety net, and the safety net of your children and children’s children to pay for the new JFK.

The feds wasting money on a military program.… Im shocked LOL!

If the GAO is so worried, why don’t they shut down the F-35 program-that program is year and billion behind budget and it’s have yet to “prove” anything

It seem to be that they are being penny wise and pound foolish

Blight: I don’t want 2 get into a bladder voiding contest w/ya…but I think your’re under the impression that “land based Rx’s” are proto-types followed by a “improved version” that are used on ships. The “sites” that contain land based Rx’s ALSO contain the propulsion & aux.sys. They are used to qual. Silent Service USN members who are then assigned to a Commissioned Warship. i.e. A1W, S6G, S8G, D2W, D1G etc… there were “sites” where prototypes where built, but they were the minority. Havin worked 4 EB Div. of GD I picked up a few things including some “site” work.…. can’t be anymore specific or I will be censored.… When workin 4 the CT-DEP, I worked overseein @ CT-level the decomm’in of the S1C “prototype”. Not 2 be insulting, but wiki (not sayin ur using it) has a few errors & a few “articles” that lack “sitations”.. Sayin’ that the S1G was the precursor to S2G isn’t 100% “technically” correct, another “glaring” error involves their articles on D1G & S1G, read them carefully & cross check,.….…..peace.….

blight.… ““Progress in constructing CVN 78 has been overshadowed by inefficient out-of-sequence work, driven largely by material shortfalls, engineering challenges, and delays developing and installing critical technology systems,” Some of the cost ineff. out of seq. work!!!!!, do they mean the modularity concept used betix 2 or 3 maybe even 4 Co.‘s workin on the ships “Main componets’??? Isn’t as coordinated or cost effective as promised.… I pass on the solution 2 fixin’ that one this “far down the road’!!!

DK: good point on “land based test platforms” wasn’t that where that mouthy Col. Billy Mitchell practised he take off’s w/souped upped, detroit-diesel-Allisons engined B-25’s??? b 4 deployin on the USS Hornet?

I’m all 4 a “safety net” I was part off one. Worked on the SSN’s & SSBN’s that still make it up. What troulbes me is the CVX & Trident replacement proposals can we afford them both, then ground our BONES & BUFFS untill the AF can select a contactor & build a replacement.… & how much will that cost.… mil​.com published that original plan that push the BUFF’s airframes out another 20yrs, why not the same 4 the BONES?..We collectively as a nation we CAN’t afford ALL these programs, don’t patronage me about “my children” my eldest is already on his 2nd deployment.…. leave MY family & MY Commitment & MY Service 2 my country out of the narrative.….

It suggests that the modules are too big in the name of saving money or trying to meet some type of time-table. And even the assembly process of working components is prone to causing problems as well and requires considerable time and effort to keep bug-free.

The Ford’s costs were severely under-estimated; which seems to be a characteristic of modern procurement.

Blight: I’m not sure what point ur tryin’ 2 make in your post …I’m well aware of the process, havin been part of it… u left out the role INEL, now called INEEL played in the entire life cycle of the NNPP as well as KAPL & the Hanford Reservation. Good research on ur part, I like have you refer. a few differnet sources & marry them 2 gether 4 a coherant post.… With respect to EB (I’m collect’in their checks) I think u put the cart b 4 the horse.… when the 688 & 726 class ships where begin’ d zined (late 60′ early 70’s??) 2 the best of my knowledge (very limited) the Rx’s land based systems where either be’in built or were already well past intial crit. therefore the Rx’s where completed & the plants where opertional. The 688 had its share of design & construction problems.…I think the 1st NPNSB sole design, The 726 class once as a previous posted stated u work the bugs out in the 1st or 2nd ship, we were launchin’ ahead of schedule!!! I will not comment on any technical problems in their respect. programs. I will not comment on what I know about any CVX or SNBX spec’s I’m aware of either! BUT u did leave out the Army Corps role in nuc power:There was interest in the possible application of nuclear power to land-based military needs as early as 1952. A memo from the Secretary of Defense, dated 10 Feb 1954, assigned the Army the responsibility for “developing nuclear power plants to supply heat and electricity at remote and relatively inaccessible military installations.” The Department of the Army (DA) established the Army Nuclear Power Program and assign. it to the Corps of Engineers. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 made the Atomic Energy Commission responsible for R&D in the nuclear field, so that the ANPP then became a joint interagency ‘activity’ of the DA and the AEC. When the Atomic Energy Act was revised in 1954, Paragraph 91b authorized the Department of Defense to obtain special nuclear material for use in defense utilization facilities. The focus of the Army Nuclear Power Program was on power production facilities while the Naval Reactors Program concentrated on nuclear propulsion for submarines and ships. On 9 April 1954 the Chief of Engineers established the US Army Engineer Reactors Group to perform the missions assigned by DA. ESSAYONS!!!!

well Blight that’s a very astute comment, however, EB Div. had this evolving problem w/respect to “Componets” which came from its subsid. in R.I. The EB yard started from scratch, (excluding) the Rx…then, the 1st hull cylin, then another, than entirely completed ones.…all corressponding 2 r.i.f. @ EB & more modularization & modernization at the “other facility” But they were both on the same sheet, 50 miles away, not 500, & not 4 other Co.‘s invovled betix the 2 main dogs.…I know where the BIG $$$ over runs are, tried to post them, but the axe fell & it hurt :(… me no make post like that anymore…(Thumb suckin’ noise in background!) .. your spot on with under estimated costs!!!! & the re-work required due to what I’ call it FACTOR X!

If anyone wants to read http://​www​.gao​.gov/​a​s​s​e​t​s​/​6​6​0​/​6​5​7​4​1​2​.​pdf

Even the introduction is an interesting read that explains what the Navy wants out of the Fords. Certainly more holistic than the usual “it launches MORE PLAENS!oneoneone” that seems to infect defense-related blogs.

The story begins:

“Initially, the Navy employed an evolutionary
acquisition strategy, with technology improvements planned to be
introduced gradually with each successive carrier. The Navy established
the CVN(X) program in 1998 in support of this concept. Under the
CVN(X) program, introduction of new technologies would be spread over
three ships, beginning with the final Nimitz-class carrier, CVN 77, which
was authorized in fiscal year 2001 to begin construction, and continuing
over two, new design CVN(X) class carriers. In 2002, however, DOD
decided to restructure the CVN(X) program (renamed as CVN 21) and
accelerated plans for introducing new technologies on the first ship of the
new class.”

Hmm, okay. 2004->2013 is 9 years.

“The Navy expects to largely repeat the lead ship design for CVN 79, with
minor modifications, and to construct that ship under a fixed-price
incentive contract with the shipbuilder.”

Which is good…if the Ford’s kinks are worked out, then this should be good news. If the Navy wants to spiral more doodads out into the Fords, NNS may switch back to a cost-plus…which will hurt.

GAO report breaks tech down by Technology Readiness Level. 6=“almost there”, 7=“low risk”.

“Technologies developed into
representative prototypes and successfully tested in a relevant
environment meet requirements for TRL 6. Technologies developed into
actual system prototypes (full form, fit, and function) and tested in an
operational environment meet requirements for TRL 7. We have
previously reported that TRL 7 constitutes low risk for starting a product
development and, for shipbuilding programs, should be achieved for
individual technologies prior to detail design contract award.”

Volume Search Radar is rated at TRL6. MFR at TRL7. Advanced Arresting Gears, EMALS, Advanced Weapons Elevators (electromag elevators), ESSM “Joint Universal Weapons Link” , Joint Precision Advanced Landing System are TRL7, suggesting they are doing alright in land based tests.

What’s interesting for EMALS is:

“technical issues
affecting the EMALS power interface and conversion systems, among
other deficiencies, have slowed progress. The Navy’s 2012
development schedule calls for land-based testing to continue into
fiscal year 2014, which, upon completion, the Navy expects will
mature the EMALS technology. In the meantime, however, significant
numbers of EMALS components have already been produced,
delivered to the shipbuilder, and installed on CVN 78—even though
the functional requirements, performance, and suitability of the system
remain unproven.”

This suggests some one-time costs to bring “beta version” of EMALS up to “release” standard EMALS. Luckily we aren’t building Fords in parallel and would have to do the fix on all of them.

Reading the GAO report, it mentions a digital 3D product model being used in the production phase. Should anyone be worried that some haxxor is going to just ftp it off of company servers?

Now that I pull out the GAO report, I append the following:

“To mitigate the impact of valve delinquencies, the shipbuilder installed temporary metal spool pieces in place of missing valves in order to continue construction work for piping systems. Installing the valves later, out-of-sequence, required additional labor hours to complete.”

Does this remind anyone of the Block III Apache Longbow problem, where you put in the few transmissions you have, take them out just to keep the line going? You get more assembled longbows, but this creates a problem downstream in the finishing process.

During WW2 stopping entire production lines for one part was stupid, and it made sense to build stuff out without stopping the line and do the fixes later. B-29’s were built in version 0 in one plant, then /flown/ to another plant for version upgrades because stopping the production line to reconfigure was viewed as detrimental to production.

So the question is this: is it cheaper for the government to swallow the cost of going back to fix out-of-sequence work, or to pay to halt production (or not even pay NNS for supply chain disruptions that they should have anticipated?), wait for all parts to arrive and then resume production? Perhaps this will spur companies to return to the days of doing more work in-house, instead of being at the whim of a subcontractor who has shareholders who mean more to them than Newport News and the Department of the Navy. It’s more /costly/, but perhaps less /disruptive/…?

In the above case, I’m not sure which course of action would’ve been most effective for the government. Halting assembly until the right parts arrive mean a ton of people sitting around doing nothing and adding serious delays and cost. Putting them to work and then going back to fix things means cutting things apart later or going back in to repeat something, increasing costs and increasing time to completion. In happy-land, when you realize that your vendors will have supply chain problems delivering a part you assist or get multiple vendors to make a standard part (in case one vendor has a QC problem). The GAO report references a situation where EMALS gear had to be retrofitted after modular construction, requiring cutaway…same with dual band radar. Is delaying construction of the related modules/blocks appropriate while waiting for big parts like radars and EMALS, but not necessarily appropriate for things like developer valves?

Build a little, test a little. We’ve gone to Build it entirely, rebuild it, test, rebuild.…repeat infinitely.

that is just a ridiculously stupid comment by someone show does not know anything of how the defense industry/military works. Such comments highlights just how ignorant you are to those of us who actually know. Republicans are always wrong about everything but democrates are always right and their shit don’t stink. Such silly partisanship is of the biggest type of bullshit there is. I’m sure you will come back with some witty (to you) response that we who actually know about the system will get another laugh from.

I agree, with these new technology’s and the SubSave improvements look at the high quality and advanced capabilities our sub fleet possesses now. The prototypes though costly proved the technology’s for decades since.

Wasn’t this the same GAO that through lavish parties, expensive conferences with very high dollar rooms for GAO employees?

True enough. The thoughts that came to mind when I read this were, “Isn’t it a little late to redesign the ship ?”

Blight: I think ur a sharp guy.…know ur stufff.. stand-up… I think u said u were Army, I worked @ “The Boat” when the 688’s were slid of “The N. Yard Ways”!!!! I think, the Miami was the last one launced that way.….could be wrong, the SSBN’s where slapped together the Modular Way & “moved” to a floater & just balasted to water… I still “git2getter” w/some old friends who work there still!! That 3-D product model.…. well if I say what it is, someone will b knockin on my door, its alot more than a model, & I doubt a haxxor could breech its security.…;).… peace

If u think cost over-runs are bad NOW, u just wait to that CVN-21 starts up.….“and accelerated plans for introducing new technologies on the first ship of the new class.” the operative phrase.…. NEW TECHNOLOGIES”.…. that’s were the BIG $$$ over-runs will be & I ain’t talkin about the catapult system!!!!!

May be thinking of someone else. No military experience on my end. After doing exceedingly far to well on the ASVAB and being hounded through senior year and the next two years of my life by recruiters, I double-majored in Microbiology and Chemistry, graduate school for computational biology at the moment. Perhaps my interest in defense affairs stems from when my father worked in the aerospace industry; and every now and then I find old stuff around the house from Litton and whatnot when I go home for the holidays. I have a relative who works tirelessly for the VA and has me convinced that “The System” is broken, which just about soured it for me and the military. Then again, I doubt I would’ve been useful to the military…definitely not 11B material!

The shareholders don’t have voting power.


Roger that AmVet.… When the USS Thresher was lost on charlie trials, ADM Rickover launched SubSafe, which NavSea, BurShipBldg authored & implemented in the Navy’s SY’s, EB, N.Y. Shipbuilding, & NPNSB! It raised the bar on QA/QC! Always remember those BP’s w/that endorsement!! Spot On!!

should have read: “The Navy did build a S1W & experiment 1st with a land-based prototype??” man one word & the whole post goes backwards, ain’t fun gettin’ old ;(.…

Spot On! but in “My Days’ in the b’ness ’78-’91/’92 The Rx’s where either Westinghouse or GE designed & the only “producers where Babcock & Wilcox.…(now the only 1 left) & United Nuclear Corp.… now the present site of one of CT’s “Indian” casino’s. Combustion Engineering had a few. But GE & West. where the “big” boys. With BETTIS APL & KAPL doing the research & now Bechtel is jumpin in on both the CVN-21 AND the SBNX Trident replacement.….. very interesting designs & operatin’ spec’s!!!! & most probably the $$$$ & over-runs 2 go w/them! p.s. left out NR-1, 4 good reason :)!

Nope, that was GSA, our people who are supposed to audit government purchases.

Right, we should be spending that money on Obamaphones and social giveaway programs for people who refuse to work instead of upgrading our national defense. Makes perfect sense to me.

My aplogoies…I had u mixed up w/another poster.…. I readily admit 2 havin’ cognative skill imparements…enuf said.….Ha!!! 11B mat’l, gotta be careful who u say that 2!! So your mid/late 20’s.… defin. smart as a wip, My dad (GRHS) worked his whole life 4 Grumman, when they were just “A Aerospace Co.” in Hempstead, L.I. ! But boy did they crank out some awesome platforms, At one point, I think almost everything that took off or landed (non-rotoary) on a carrier deck was manufact. by them.….. not countin’ the LEM.…… Your relative is close to the mark about the VA…I think “Overloaded” & “under-resourced” = broken.…. don’t sour on the military.… with ur background u could prob. direct commission & w/the right clearance end up “underground” somewhere in MD. doin research w/ USAMRIID, check’em out, knew a guy did real well w/them.….

cycle62.….the GSA are the people who provide services from A to Z FOR the FED. G’ment, I didn’t know they had an audit arm. Each Federal Agency has “internal” auditors.… & the Gov’t Acct. Office is kinda like the watch dog for FW&A, for them ALL. imho.

ouch.….the censors got my reply.…probably means demerits too.…..

If u truly want 2 “serve” in the Armed Forces i.e. Army ur right 11B wouldn’t b my 1st choice.… but their are enormous research oppurt. 4 a “Young Turk” like u. This ole dog has had his day in the sun, both in the Military & civilian world.… I’m not one bit bitter, now its up to my eldest, & his (h.s.) senior twins & post grad’s like u to “forge” the future. The one thing I REALLY miss is bein’ adjunct… I REALLY enjoyed teachin.….undergrad biology, & grad level environ. Sci. classes in “Night School” My BSME… I can pick up some $$$ doin consultin’ here & there. I could tell u much more about the NNPP & their Rx’s & commerical nuclear power electric generating stations (I had unfettered access too the 4 in CT, now 2)… but alas the censors axe.…. chop..Ha!

blight…u would have 2 have the clearance 4 me to discuss those opn. spec’s as well!.…. didn’t want 2 leave that out!.….;)

Ahhhhhh what a beauty of a mess the Navy has gotten if self into.But i think it to late to pull the pin on this Ford t Carrier they are to deep into design/build now to go around and change design the next just guna cost alot more.Navy is just going to have to face it and have cut it Carrier fleet, down to 9–10 which aint such a bad idea​.Us navy needs to grab Newsport by the balls and scew them to the floor and all there subcontractor on cost for the first and second.

GAO doesn’t actually have the power to shut anything down.

If you are a libturd, then you will just hate the development of the Ford and will do your utmost to undermine it. If you are a normal American, you will want the Ford to succeed and be the best carrier we have ever hard. That is the way it has always been and always will be, period.

Mmkay.…I am sure to get lambasted for this but during the 60’s we used old carriers for support roles and the new ones for forward operations. I guess it is time to reevaluate the roles and missions we CAN carry out reasonably. Maybe we should consider less giant ships and build affordable mission capable blue water escorts for a decade to protect the floating gold we’re currently building, but thats just me.

CVN78 appears to be suffering from the same problems that the F-35 JSF is experiencing as technology has not totally caught up with design and with every engineering re-design which causes a cascade effect to other sub-systems that need to be changed comes added cost and delays to the program.

$20 billion for a great, big target.
Carrier are over, people. We ain’t fighting WWII anymore.

Carriers are over. They are big, expensive targets for
Russian and Chinese missiles.
This isn’t 1944, folks.

Totally agree, but was wondering how else do we move airfields closer to the theater of war.

The other lesson of “WWII” is that land bases suck. We fortified the Philippines and numerous Pacific islands and lost them. The Japanese did the same. They were all exterminated. Any questions?

Your groupthink is the unquestioning mentality that led to “battleship-first” which doomed the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Eventually technology will catch up with the aircraft carrier.

We did that mostly because the jets got bigger faster than the older carriers could handle. Only the USS Midway was large enough to still handle reasonably modern aircraft. The old Essexes became…whatever. That said, if we invested in ski-jump aircraft like the Russians did, we would’ve kept those older carriers going for decades, but with inferior aircraft.

There is indeed an ideal size where a carrier too small becomes rather pointless. It is possible that with the next generation of automation, crew requirements shrink and lead to smaller carriers that can still carry reasonable strike packages. Adding unmanned aircraft and perhaps robotic aircraft handling may help even more.

Maybe EMALS and more powerful magnets mean aircraft can be launched from shorter decks. This might give smaller carriers a seat at the table, even at reduced sortie rates.

Well said!! That is exactly what my intent was, but I only have historical perspective. Thank you for articulating it in the current age of tech and advancement!!

To our comments earlier I believe it is time to strike a balance and not go so heavy in every corner of the globe maybe? Reduce the number of GIANT SUPER FORTRESS CARRIERS and replace them with smaller flattops to provide a task force air cap and limited strike capabilities, While saving the Super Carriers for longer deployments with larger areas to patrol, prevent, and protect? I think our R&D guys have spent enough for a while. Let us field a coherent cohesive blue water fleet fit to wage battle against a contemporary potential enemy threat. It just seems to me the Navy has wondered into the field of “We wanna do every mission the Govt. would ask any branch of the armed forces to do and we want all the bells and whistles to make it happen!”…while building the Cadillac-Tahjma Hall of ships to boot with no concern to its protection. In short, I think they the need to come out of the weeds and focus on their true and historical calling. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Navy! I was raised by Sailors and Marines, and do so love the Navy!!

The CVN’s are far from Taj Mahal: they are big indeed, but carry air wing plus supplies for sustained operations. You could build smaller carriers, but in wartime a carrier that is built to have higher sortie rates than resupply would require long daisy chains of ships crossing the ocean and delivering munitions. Such a carrier would be targeted by killing its logistical tail, at which point the carrier would have to leave station to resupply somewhere safe.

I suppose we could go back to the history books and see how they approached sortie rates in the early 20th century. An option that was briefly explored by the Japanese was multiple decks. Many Japanese carriers in world war two had a upper deck and a deck below it that could also launch aircraft. With two decks they could double their sortie rate in good, calm weather. There are caveats to this approach, of course…a cruise missile that went into the space between launch decks and detonated would gut a ship like a fish. But it may be an option worth thinking about, if only to dispel.

The other option is jet seaplanes. The caveat is that they might not dogfight very well against their non seaplane counterparts.

People will inevitably bring up using the Marine amphibious transports. The problem is that they too are space limited by carrying hardware for their embarked Marines. On a good day the new LHA’s carry 6 JSF’s as part of their complement, and even after taking out all the Marines carry 35 JSF’s. No Super Hornets, no Growlers, no Hawkeyes.

Good point blight.….. GEN. MacArthur was brillant in avoiding the fortified islands, & Hopp’d ’round ‘em, reakin’ havoc on their “log-train” but then there was his most “beloved island & people”.….. “I have Returned”!!!! He was one of our “Greatest”!

SPOT ON!.… r’member the “midget carriers” that provided air support in the Atlantic for convoys to England, very effective, but they have drawbacks, limited range, # of aircraft, unable to supply support ships w/fuel.… etc. BUT your point is excellent, they could build a smaller carrier..non-nuc, & have it operate out of a “foward deployed AO” i.e. Perth, Singapore, The Rock, Guam…etc It could be like a LHD w/o the aft Floodable deck for the LCAC, gators etc.….

Blight: while the imperial japanese navy did in fact build the biggest battle-wagon.… they concurrently built a very threatening & formadible “carrier fleet” unmatched at the begining of WW II, that launced the attack on Pearl Harbour. The quest. always asked in the Pacific theatre was probably “Where are their carriers”!

Pushing the envelope has a price and its costly. Maybe we should return to wooden ships and iron men and maybe just maybe there will be no complaints about cost, unless we run out of trees first.

Gdadl: I 2 as an American, Army Colonel (RR), I man who spent 20 yrs as a navsea q’d worker on ssn’s & ssbn’s, a informed citizen on the enormous challenges we face as a nation; social, economic, foreign policy , monetary etc, YES I do want to have those “nuggets” taken’ off from the best “flattop” we can produce w/ the best; aircraft, weapons systems, elint/siglant, ASW, etc. BUT the day’s of cost+ are over!!!!! the original projected cost of three of these ships, at the present rate of cost over-runs & rework & sub-contactor logistics problems will only buy 2, just like the USS Seawolf.… than back to the drain’ board.… & then I look at the SSBNX program.… & wow.…. I see the same mentality with respect to cost.… we just CAN’T AFFORD these platforms at these rates.…..its as simple as that.…ohhhh I have an idea.…lets cut the Army down to pre-1940 manning levels, we can save enough right, b cuz the navy can d-fend the USA all by itself…right? project air power, naval infrantry anywhere on the globe, a nuclear deterant man why didn’t I think of this b 4, thats why SECDEF Hagel wants to ground the bones & buffs & its all fallin into place!!!! I see said the blind man 2 his deaf wife!!!! LOL!

PQ: the “miget carriers” u speak of were produced in WW II, to protect the atlantic convoys to England. I have no doubt that we could develop a small or mid-sized “flattop” non-nuke for foward deployment, lets say Perth, Singapore, Guam, The Rock or Japan, these smaller carriers lacking the abilities that the current cvn’s have could provide smaller AO’s with power projection, ASW, anti-area denial, etc.… they would lack the “Endurance” of the present CVN’s but could provide “in-theatre” power projection & have require a smaller contingent of support ships and anti; ship ‚missle, aircraft surface craft, 4 ex. park one right off Hainan Island, & base it at Cam Ranh Bay or Subic bay.…. just 4 giggles…I wonder how the PRC would react to that????

Excellent tech. analysis of the LHA“s as “Midget Carriers”. We would need 2 design a different type of ship that lacks the water-tight c’partment for the LCAC’s gators etc.…that would free up some space for more aircraft & rotary assets.. it would be strickly 4 air super. power projection not amphib. landings.….

KrazyCOL-the first two of the new LHA’s have no well deck for precisely the above role I’ve mentioned.

That said, I have to retract the 35 number. Sources called it at “35 fixed and rotary wing” aircraft, implying the numbers were interchangeable. From

“LHA 6 is a large-deck amphibious ship designed to support a
notional mix of 12 MV-22s, six F-35B Joint Strike Fighters
(Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing variant), four CH-53Es, seven
AH-1s/UH-1s, and two embarked H-60 Search and Rescue
(SAR) aircraft, or an F-35B load-out of 20 aircraft and two
H-60 SAR aircraft.”

The other tradeoff includes
“Shpboard medcal spaces were reduced by
approxmately two-thrds compared to contemporary LHDs to
expand the hangar bay.”

What’s of interest is:
”• Hangar facilities will better accommodate MV-22s and
F-35Bs, in addition to all Navy and Marine Corps helicopters”

Though to preserve naming unity, the LPH should be the well-deckless variants of the America class, and the remainder with welldecks should be LHD.

I wonder how much the triple phaser banks and photon torpedo tubes will add to the final price.…

President Eisenhower warned us.

good post as usual…“Brainiack!!!! ;), as far as their configuration put those gooney bird MV-22 somewhere else, that would free up alot of space.…. I wouldn’t fly in that aircraft…no way!!!

It’s an embarassing show of how little shipbuilding is done here.

If the US wants to start a real trade war with China, extend the Jones Act. Require American-built ships (flag wherever you want) to transport goods to the US.

“Pushing the envelope has a price and its costly”

Agreed, but there’s a cheap way to do it and there’s an expensive way.

We are treating military procurement like the Space Race. No expenses spared, let’s get to the frickin’ moon and worry about the cost later; whereas in the ‘60s and ‘70s on the military side, we focused on practical, fieldable technology because we were fighting in Korea or Vietnam and possibly W. Europe, with no time for whizbang weapons that would have to be teethed in combat.

CVN-78 IS CVN-21…same ship program, renamed after Hull was assigned as Gerald Ford.

You have no idea what you are talking about. Eisenhower’s speech is now a throwaway cliché to stop meaningful discussion on the budget. Search the internet for 50 Years Later: What Military-Industrial Complex? Use quotes.
Eisenhower’s warning now applies to the Social Spending-Entitlement Complex.
Almost time to update the status if the non-existent ‘complex’. Probably when the 2013 data becomes available.

Linking (as you did in your post) to the Farewell speech: (http://​www​.americanrhetoric​.com/​s​p​e​e​c​h​e​s​/​d​w​i​g​h​t​d​e​i​s​e​n​h​o​w​e​r​f​a​r​e​w​e​l​l​.​h​tml)

“Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research — these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of threat and stress.”

You’re right in that Eisenhower wanted a balanced country, unlike the Soviet enemy. You’re probably also correct in that we focus on that MIC too much.

Objectively, are we meeting the “balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future”. If you look at SS, Medicare and Defense (in that order), you could argue that the safety net is a big chunk of the budget, and thus the government is skewed towards the safety net. If you abstract out SS and Medicare, then it’s the DoD vs everything else and the tables turn: DoD looks pretty big.

I wonder if we have forgotten “balance between the cost and hoped for advantages” in our modern defense procurement…

Actually, you have it exactly backwards.
Defense programs since WW2 and up through the end of the Cold War used to be shaped more by ‘Technology-Push’ than ‘Requirements-Pull’. About the time we figured out the Soviets were beat in the late 1980s, all our program starts were shifted towards Requirements-Pull. Today, advanced technology is incorporated in a weapon system requirement if it is seen as being of direct benefit to the warfighter and the fight itself. I was In AF Systems Command and Materiel Command during that timeframe and the Push-Pull language was exactly what was used to describe the changeover. This BTW, is also why DoD really embraced NASA’s TRLs to gauge when a technology was ‘ready enough’ to try and field. If the USS Ford was shaped by ‘technology push’, it would probably be far more complex than it already is.
The scary part about ‘Requirements-Pull’ is it presumes we know what the requirement will be farther in the future than we can possibly see, and may tie us to old paradigms that could be, should be, supplanted with better ones. The delay in wide adoption of precision strike weapons comes to mind in that regard.

I would how much time the navy spent answering silly questions and data calls from the GAO instead of doing what the taxpayers pay them do n manage their programs! Thanks GAO, quality stuff here … NOT! Nothing new here but I bet it cost us taxpayers a bundle to put th report together.

The same old arguments keep resurfacing since the 1930’s. I’m glad the arguments were not listened to or we would not have a Navy.
With the cost of a carrier the Navy is preparing well in advance for replacing the Nimitz Class. We are not building more Carriers just replacing the ones we have. It is the same with the air wing. The air wing of the 1950’s as replaced by the airing of the 1960’s and then the 1970’s and then the 1990’s. No soon the air wing will be replaced again.
Now by the time they get done with the Ford’s, if they build 11. (Or change the law) they will have started on a new design and class already to replace the Ford’s.
Like with the Forrestal’s an Kitty Hawk class which they incorporated new technology of the time into several classes they wanted to make one class instead of two or three.


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