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File Video Above: Navy Preps its New USS Ford Carrier for Massive, High-Speed Attacks

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

The Navy’s USS Ford has taken another large step toward being ready for war now that its Advanced Weapons Elevators are now complete and turned over to the ship’s crew, a Navy announcement said. 

Advanced Weapons Elevators 

 “AWEs on this first-of-class aircraft carrier operate using several advanced technologies including electromagnetic motors vice more labor intensive, hydraulic systems. The advanced technology enables fewer sailors to safely move ordnance from weapons magazines to the flight deck with unparalleled speed and agility,” a Navy report said. 

Aviation Ordnancemen assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) weapons department bring inert training bombs up to the flight deck during flight operations May 30, 2020. (Chief Mass Communication Specialist RJ Stratchko/U.S. Navy)

Aviation Ordnancemen assigned to USS Gerald R. Ford's (CVN 78) weapons department bring inert training bombs up to the flight deck during flight operations May 30, 2020. (Chief Mass Communication Specialist RJ Stratchko/U.S. Navy)

The elevators have been repaired and tweaked considerably in recent years, so their completion is a substantial step toward finalizing the long-term yet quite significant developmental period for the first-in-class-ship. The new elevators are fundamental to a group of new technologies specifically developed for and woven into the Ford class ships, as the class incorporates a number of unprecedented breakthroughs. 

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The fundamental advantage of the elevator pertains to speed and pace of attack and sortie rate. Returning planes such as F-35Cs or F/A-18s will be able to refuel and reload on a much faster timetable, a capability which accelerates the speed, scope and intensity of any air attack campaign. 

Ordnance can be quickly brought up and loaded onto an aircraft for take-off. The supports the overall mission of the Ford which, among other things, is to greatly increase the sortie rate for an aircraft carrier in the event that a major power conflict requires an uptick in attack speed.
For example, the deck of the Ford is larger than the Nimitz-class for the specific purpose of enabling an improved sortie rate. In fact the sortie rate of the Ford class is improved as much as 33-percent, Navy developers have said for many years.
The weapons elevators are also intended to work in tandem with a new electromagnetic catapult system called EMALS

EMALS represents a breakthrough in aircraft carrier launch technology as ships are no longer launched with a steam catapult which developers say is more like a “shotgun” style abrupt take off. 

EMALS allows for a smoother, more continuous take-off by virtue of using an electromagnetic field to propel the ship off the deck. Part of the advantage with this is that it creates less wear and tear on the aircraft themselves which supports their expected service life.

With the elevators and the electromagnetic catapult, the USS Ford will enable more attacking planes to spend dwell time over target areas, respond to emerging targets and sustain an aggressive high-op tempo of attacks.

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven - Center for Military Modernization