Is new US CVN-79 aircraft carrier incompatible with F-35 airplanes?
Problems could concern catapults and the stopping cables
The US Navy's new Ford class aircraft carrier, CVN-79, may not be able to deploy F-35C aircraft. Or at least not immediately. The issue is contained in a draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2020, the budget law for the US Department of Defense, published in recent days by he "Subcommitee On Seapower And Projection Forces", the body that oversees equipment and programs for the US Navy. "This section would require the Secretary of the Navy to ensure that the aircraft carrier to be designated CVN-79 is capable of deploying with the F-35 prior to accepting delivery," the draft NDAA text states.
The ship, which will be named USS "John F. Kennedy", is being built at a shipyard in Virginia, and is expected to enter into service in military fleet in 2024.
Therefore the requirement of the subcommittee raises doubts about the compatibility of the second aircraft carrier powered by nuclear reactors with fifth generation fighters. The source of the problem would be related to an incompatibility of the electromagnetic catapult (Emals, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System), and of the Aag cable (Advanced Arresting Gear) -used respectively for take-off and landing- with F-35 multi-role fighters.
Furthermore the problem would also concern the mother-carrier, the Uss "Gerald R. Ford" (CVN 78). Cause the impossibility for testing or using the F-35s, only Super Hornets FA-18 E/F and EA-18G Growlers fighter bombers were deployed on the "Gerald Ford". According to some analysts, choosing the ship to be delivered without the possibility of embarking the latest generation fighters would have been assumed directly by the US Navy, in order to contain the program costs already leavened beyond the expected and spread them in different budget cycles in next coming years .
An assessment achieved by the Government Accountability Office (Gao) in 2014, integration of the Emals and Aag technologies with the F-35C could be certified in 2027. Currently, the USS "Abraham Lincoln" (CVN-72) of the Nimitz class is the only United States Navy's aircraft carrier suitable deploying the F-35C fighters.
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