The US Navy has announced its intention to block-buy two Ford-class aircraft carriers, US Senate Armed Services Committee member Tim Kaine has confirmed.
The Ford-class warships are equipped with electromagnetic-powered aircraft launch system (EMALS) and are expected to replace Nimitz-class carriers, which have served the US Navy for more than 40 years.
Welcoming the announcement, Kaine said: “I’m thrilled the navy has decided to pursue a block-buy for aircraft carriers, something I’ve been advocating to save billions in taxpayer dollars and offer more certainty to the Hampton Roads defence community.
“This smart move will save taxpayer dollars and help ensure the shipyards can maintain a skilled workforce to get the job done. Newport News builds the finest carriers in the world, and I know they are ready to handle this increase in work as we make progress toward the navy’s goal of a 355-ship fleet.”
In June 2017, Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding division delivered the first Ford-class aircraft carrier, Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), to the US Navy following completion of acceptance trials in May.
The USS Gerald R Ford was built at a cost of $13bn and commissioned in July 2017.
According to HII, the Ford-class carriers have a nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, and improved weapons movement, as well as an enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates.
The navy expects to spend around $43bn to build the first three ships in the class.
Deployment of the ship is estimated to result in $4bn in total ownership cost savings for the navy.
Last year, the navy asked HII for detailed pricing on the cost of two aircraft carriers.