The US Navy has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman for the design and engineering of an advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).

Under the $186.6m contract, the company’s shipbuilding sector will provide additional design, planning and system integration services along with the analysis to support CVN 78 construction.

Northrop Grumman aircraft carrier construction programme vice-president Mike Shawcross said the company would produce instructions for the assembly of a 3D design ship.

Gerald R Ford, the lead ship of the future US Navy supercarriers, incorporates advanced weapons handling systems, new nuclear power plants, increased electrical power generation capacity and the capability to allow future technologies.

In September 2008, the US Navy awarded a $5.1bn, seven-year contract for the detailed design and construction of CVN-78.

The carrier with a full-load displacement capacity of around 101,600t can carry more than 75 aircraft, and cruises at a top speed in excess of 30kt.

The CVN 78 is scheduled to be delivered to the navy in 2015.