Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ford Update

Let’s check in with DOT&E and see how the Ford is coming along.

The electromagnetic catapult and arresting gear continue to show severe maintenance issues.  DOT&E flatly states,

“Absent a major redesign, the catapults and arresting gear are not likely to meet reliability requirements.”

Maintenance is complicated by an inability to perform repairs on catapult components without shutting down the entire system.

“…the Navy identified an inability to readily electrically isolate EMALS components to perform concurrent maintenance. This inability to readily electrically isolate EMALS components could preclude some types of EMALS maintenance during flight operations, decreasing EMALS operational availability.”

So, the catapult system is unreliable and the design does not lend itself to repair during operations.  Kind of a double whammy, there!  As DOT&E points out, on Nimitz carriers a steam catapult can be isolated and worked on while the other catapults continue to operate – a major operational advantage.

Here’s some data on the EMALS reliability courtesy of DOT&E.  The requirement for Mean Cycles Between Critical Failure (MCBCF) – a cycle is one launch – is 4,166.  That means, on average, there should be one critical catapult failure every 4,166 launches.  The actual data to date show a MCBCF of 340.  That’s not even in the remote ballpark of meeting the spec.  As DOT&E states,

“Absent a major redesign, it is unlikely EMALS will be capable of meeting the requirement of 4,166 MCBCF.”

Think that’s bad?  It’s fantastic compared to the arresting gear.  The MCBCF requirement for the arresting gear is one every 16,500.  That’s a huge number but you really don’t want the arresting gear to fail and, let’s face it, it’s a pretty straightforward piece of equipment.  What’s the actual data?  The actual MCBCF is 20.  That’s a critical failure every 20 recoveries!

Given the launch and recovery problems, I’m guessing that pilots are not yet rushing to sign up for duty on Ford.

The inability to safely launch Hornets and Growlers with fuel tanks continues to be a problem and, as DOT&E points out, precludes normal operations.

“[Testing] discovered excessive airframe stress during launches of F/A-18E/F and EA-18G with wing-mounted 480-gallon external fuel tanks (EFTs). This discovery, until corrected, will preclude the Navy from conducting normal operations of the F/A-18E/F and EA-18G from CVN 78.”

Catapult problems abound, it appears.  Consider this item,

In October 2015, the Navy discovered that one of the three Prime Power Interface Subsystems (PPIS) Transformer Rectifiers (TRs) had been damaged during shipboard certification testing. Two of the three TRs are required for normal catapult operations. The TRs were designed to last the life of the ship.”

Life of the ship?  It came up a bit short!  I hope they bought the warranty option.

DOT&E reports that the failed transformer is 11 ft wide and weighs 35,000 lbs.  Replacement will require cutting a hole in the side of the ship and will take several months to complete.

There are other problems like manning and berthing shortfalls, dual band radar issues, etc. but the items listed here are sufficient to provide a grasp of the magnitude of the problems facing Ford.

Why am I pointing these out?  Let’s be honest and fair.  All new ships and all new systems have problems that are eventually worked out.  I’m pointing these out because they involve developmental systems that were non-existent technology when ship construction started.  They should have remained developmental programs until they matured instead of trying to develop them during production.  It is a near certainty that the Ford will be operating under severe performance constraints for several years.  What good does an essentially crippled carrier do the Navy?  The Navy seems unable to grasp the concept of leaving developmental technology in the R&D realm until it’s ready.  Failure to do so leads to stunning program failures like the LCS, F-35, and Ford.

I’ve said this repeatedly and I’ll keep saying it:  learn a lesson, Navy!


  1. Friends at Lakehurst told me a decade ago that ELAM had failed despite billions of dollars and a decade of development and they expected cancellation, so all were shocked when it moved on to installation on the Ford. This became apparent to everyone when they did test shots off the bow into the water from the Ford.

    The solution? Admirals suddenly accepted the need for a shock test to delay the news for two years more so the guilty can retire. And there was no problem with the fuel tanks. The system can't launch a loaded FA-18, so rather than admit that they blame the aircraft. As the Fat Leonard case showed, our officer corps produces Admirals that are outright corrupt.

    1. I assume ELAM means EMALS? Let me make my position clear on this. My criticism is not of EMALS, per se, but that it was spec'ed into a production vessel long before it was proven. That it has problems is to be expected but that's why developmental projects should stay in R&D. If they mature then they can be inserted into production. Until then, they should stay in R&D.

      EMALS is not a failure in the sense that it can't perform its intended function - ground units have been launching aircraft for some time. It's a failure in that its reliability is woefully substandard and its maintainability is difficult in some circumstances. It's also an unshielded electromagnetic beacon for enemies to locate the carrier.

      Let's also be clear, the Navy didn't accept the shock testing. They were ordered to do it. While that may buy them some additional development time, I see no evidence that they would have allowed shock tests if not ordered. They had plenty of time and opportunity to do so if they were so inclined.

      I'm unaware of anyone blaming F-18s for the launch issue. Do you have any link or reference supporting that?

  2. When I've pressed this in other blogs there seem to be two responses: A) Attack DOT&E and B) talk about how reduced manning is going to save things.

    I do get the argument that the Nimitz class needed more power. I don't get why they couldn't do a more modest re-design. Especially with EMALS and the new arresting gear. Maybe EMALS is the wave of the future but it seems we might have a very real chance of having a 12b carrier that doesn't do much.

    1. "... other blogs ..."???? That's like saying, "my other wives"!!!

      Only an idiot would attack DOT&E. Nothing more needs to be said about that.

      Why do you get that a Nimitz needs more power? For what? The only possible justification for more power is lasers/rail guns if someone is thinking about retrofitting them to Nimitz's some day and that's more wishful thinking than reality. So, power for what?

      $12B??? According to the latest CRS report, the Navy's estimate for Ford is $12.9B which is the Congressional cost cap and there is still lots of work to do. CBO converted the $12.9B(nominal dollars) to 2015 dollars and came up with $14.7B, so far. Ford probably has at least another billion or so to go in construction costs, probably more. The Navy, faced with the cost cap, is frantically deferring construction to post-delivery periods when they can tap into other funds and bypass the cost cap as well as obscure the true costs.

    2. "The Navy, faced with the cost cap, is frantically deferring construction to post-delivery periods when they can tap into other funds and bypass the cost cap as well as obscure the true costs."

      Um, isn't this fraud?

    3. I dn't know the best way to handle this.

      Maybe just bite the bullet and rip out EMALS and the new arresting gear and put in conventional stuff. At least we get a carrier.

      As to the more power, yes; to me that's reasonable for just future proofing. The claims I've heard are that the Nimitz class is topped out with current upgraded systems. I have no independant verification of that.

      But if we can put in a new, existing, reliable reactor that cranks out more power, it seems like a reasonable evolutionary change.

    4. With the catapults at least they can't swap it for the old systems. Those are steam powered and require ducts and pipes that the Ford doesn't have. You can probably install them but it would involve ripping the ship apart.

      I think I remember a decision point in the construction when they had to chose which system got put in. I wonder if the JFK and Enterprise will get the EMALS.

    5. "Um, isn't this fraud?"

      Not when the government does it :)

    6. "As to the more power, yes; to me that's reasonable for just future proofing. The claims I've heard are that the Nimitz class is topped out with current upgraded systems. I have no independant verification of that."

      I've never heard that Nimitz carriers are power limited. You indicate that you don't have any reference for that so I'm going to assume that's not true, for the time being.

      "Future proofing"? If that's our justification, then where do we draw the line? That's as open ended as you can get. Using that logic, we should double the size of the carrier cause you never know what will come along in the future. We should add berthing for 50,000 crew cause you never know. We should add several extra reactors cause you never know what kind of death ray will come along. We should add ...

      Unless we have a truly unlimited budget, we can't afford future proofing. What we can do is take a hard look at the LIKELY needs over the first twenty years of ship life and allow for those. Beyond that, if requirements change that drastically then we scrap the ship and build something new that was designed for invisibility, death ray, and warp drive.

      Future proofing is how projects become bloated monstrosities.

    7. "With the catapults at least they can't swap it for the old systems."

      Correct. The Navy bet all in on EMALS and will have to make it work no matter how much it costs or how long it takes because, as you point out, replacing it will cost more.

    8. "Not when the government does it :)"

      Funny, sad, and true.

    9. More power is critical.
      Not just for the fancy laser beams in the sky, and the rail guns, although, I'm 100% sure that in the next decade they'll be installed on most naval platforms as cheap, unlimited ammo point defence system,
      But, no, the power requirements is for 21st century levels of tech, vs 20th century that was pre installed on these hulks.
      Newer computers, AESA radars, EW systems, these are all power hungry units, hence the need for more electricity generation.

    10. Nate, you'e making a sweeping statement, there, concerning power and it may not be entirely founded. For example, computers are getting ever smaller so, both individually and in the aggregate, less power is needed. We're replacing giant racks of computers with a single, small server. I've got to believe that's significantly less power. That said, computers don't really consume much power.

      I'm not aware that AESA radars require more power than older radars. Is that true? Do you have any data to support that?

      Same for EW systems. The new SEWIP is just a somewhat upgraded version of the old SLQ-32. I'm not aware that it requires any more power and may require less.

      I'm always leery of blanket statements like this. I'm open to agreeing with you if you can provide some data. See what you can find.

    11. Computers are getting smaller, and more efficient, yes, however, we're shoving more and more into each machine, so while your tower these days has a smaller core in it, its also got 8, or 12 , or 16 of them, so more resources, more power consumption. But lets face it, it can do much more, and much faster.
      Essentially, you're carrying many more computers, so, yes, power consumption is up.

      AESA radars, are, as the name suggests an array of very smaller radio wave transmitters, and like your computer, are miniaturised, and more power efficient, each one using 40-60 watts... But, there are now thousands of them on each panel, and, the cooling requirements are enormous, so, again, more power consumption.

      Then theres the array of new tech that didn't exist the last time
      they were designing power systems. Comms, Network infrastructures, wireless, much higher throughput of data over uhf, etc etc etc..
      It all adds up.

    12. CNO; you can go overboard certainly with future proofing. But... for something you're going to keep for a long time its just wise to plan ahead, within reason.

      I did IT for EMS for a long time. We were often tight on funding, and we'd keep rigs for years and hundreds of thousands of miles.

      When we bought a new one, we'd look at what had happened in the past (power consumption went up) and try to plan for that in the future.

      Power consumption on the Nimitz classes has gone up. And, the new weapons and sensors the Navy is cranking out there demand more power. Just a data center typically sucks more power now than it did 10 years ago. In 10 years it may suck more still. And for a CVN we are looking at a ship with a half century life span. Over Spec a bit. It will save you money in the long run.

      Now, I'm not saying 'We have to have 4 integral fast reactors'. I'm saying take advantage of the current tech and max out what you can within a reasonable budget.

    13. "I'm saying take advantage of the current tech and max out what you can within a reasonable budget."

      And there's the problem. In your mind, one "reasonable" added cost for additional power is completely justified. Of course, the guy next to you thinks some reasonable added cost for a better radar is completely justified. And the guy next to him thinks adding a couple hundred feet of length to accommodate future, larger aircraft is justified. And the guy next to him ...

      Before you know it, you've got a runaway train wreck of procurement due to future proofing everyone's pet ideas.

      You know, conceptually, there is an alternative to future proofing. Instead of building a ship that will last 50 years and trying to make it big enough, powerful enough, whatever enough, to last 50 years (and we always guess wrong), we could go the other direction and build ships for a much more limited lifespan, say 20 years. That way, there's no need to future proof. When the future arrives in 20 years, retire the ship and build a new one.

      Of course, this notional 20 year ship would have to cost half of what the 50 year ship does but that's just a matter of focus. Take a carrier, for example. We could build a smaller Midway size carrier, embark the same air wing, use conventional power, skip the super anti-gravity catapult system and quad band radar, and build a basic, combat ready carrier for half the cost.

  3. One thing.... for an organization that repeatedly reminds people that its tight on cash, its pulling alot of stuff like this. Its like saying 'Man, with tuition nowadays the family budget is super tight. So I bought a Mercedes E class hybrid because it has a good name and should be more efficient.'

    WE should be buying accords if we are really that tight.

    Or, if we are going to have a two tiered fleet, lets make it just that. For anti piracy/'presence' missions buy a container ship that can run a helo, has 30 ships crew; paint it gray, ad some 25mm mounts, and call it good. It will never, ever fight a real opponent. But for showing the flag and having small numbers of crew it will do that infinitely cheaper than an LCS.

    I'm speaking in generalities, not specifics. But ThinkDefense had an article on that not too long ago. Its not a bad idea.

    1. I've advocated a war/peace tiered Navy which is, essentially, a two-tier approach.

    2. Yes you have. Not trying to steal your thunder. Just pointing out how weird the Navy's actions seem to be.

  4. "... developmental systems that were non-existent technology when ship construction started. They should have remained developmental programs until they matured instead of trying to develop them during production. "

    And this is the lesson that DOD, Congress and everyone else should have thumped into their heads.


  5. The Ford class isn't a bad idea, although the name is and should have been Langley/Saratoga/Lexington, because the Nimitzs are an old design. Fords have a new hull design, better damage control, better flght deck ops, and things like that. The mistake was putting all the new toys on it like EMALS, the arresting gear, the radar system, etc. One would've been fine with the capability to add the rest as they matured. Right now they have a nightmare.

    1. What was better about the hull?

      The flight deck layout probably doesn't make much practical difference given the greatly reduced size of current air wings.

      This is one of my pet peeves. We automatically want to discredit designs because they are old without rigorously assessing whether they are significantly deficient. We could have built the next Nimitz with EMALS (assuming it worked, for sake of discussion) or with a new radar. We didn't have to spend billions designing a brand new ship that offers only a marginal improvement, if that.

  6. I wonder what the useful load of an F35B is with an 1100ft runway, because the Ford is currently a very big STOSL carrier and likely to remain so until its mid life refuel

    1. At a quick glance, I haven't found anything that indicates whether or not the reactors are good for the 50 year life of the carrier. Does anyone know?

    2. I remember reading (sorry, can't find where) that all current gen of nuclear powered flattops/subs were being designed around a no refuel shelf life. Part of the great cost savings schemes being implemented.

      Happy to be shown I'm wrong.

    3. Ive found a cached image of a plan, which has Ford going in in 2038, but nothing official.
      Id be surprised if the reactors were good for 50 years without a refuel, but who knows.

      Ive certainly read power is a problem, some computers are a lot more power efficient than they were, but thats a pretty new occurence, and is hardly across the board. Its not just computers though.

      I have read the power issue a lot, and have usually considered it to be an "authoritative" source, although that doesnt mean much.

    4. This

      It only references the ohio, but i assume that DOD would try and apply a similar cost saving plan across its new fleet.
      It may be a bridge too far to expect a 100,000 ton carrier could be driven indefinitely, but, if its simply a matter of scaling up from a 20,000 ton sub to a 100,000 ton ship... Dunno,
      Think I'm sounding like a compete amateur.
      Will keep looking, think i do remember reading a similar mention of the Ford class.

    5. The Virginia's have the S9G reactor with a reactor design life of 33 years. I've been unable to find anything about whether the Ford reactors can meet the 50 year life of the ship. My vague suspicion is that they can't, either because of nuclear fuel limitations or because of mechanical reactor issues (nuclear embrittlement, for example) but I don't know that to be true.

      Let me know if you come across something that says one way or the other.


    7. TrT, good find. So, there's an answer from what I consider a fairly definitive source, Defense Industry Daily website. The Ford will need a mid-life refuel. There's your answer, Nate, unless we can find a source to the contrary.

    8. The CVN-78 Ford Class will last much longer, and so their high-output reactor will still face mid-life RCOH procedures.

      Thanks guys. Good find.

      So, that midlife refuel :)

  7. Well, going back in history, the original plans for development of the EMAL was to happen over two ships, the first to have one or two testing units and two steam cats. Then low and behold they bean counter got involved and we ended up with just the Ford.

    There are some questions I like answered.

    1) what was the average length of time for each EMAL shutdown, how does it compare to that of a Nimitz type Catapult.

    2) It the total EMAL outage for the total length of the repair, Or is it just long enough to pull some jumpers to isolate parts of the system while the remainder goes back on line? At first it reads like all repairs required total shutdown, but a second reading show that only some repairs required a total shutdown.

    1b) What percentage of time was the EMALS unavailable? That just as important as Mean Cycles Between Critical Failure (MCBCF) in terms of determining the severity of the problem.

    2) what was the cause of the Rectifier failure and was it cause by the testing or only discover by the test. could it be some like they dropped the rectifier while it was installed. Or could it had blown by too high of voltage being applied during the test?

    3) That is the cause of the transformer failure, and how long to replace the transformer.

    FYI 17.5 tons for an commercial transformer is not uncommon, and could be COTS item.

    1. All good questions and I have no answers.

  8. Nothing will change until these decisions driven by greed, careerism and incompetence get a lot of sailors killed. Read about the problem with torpedoes at the beginning of World War II. This is worse - a damaging culture affecting all major acquisition programs for the air and surface navy. I hope the submarine navy fares better.

  9. This is scary.

    Here’s some data on the EMALS reliability courtesy of DOT&E. The requirement for Mean Cycles Between Critical Failure (MCBCF) – a cycle is one launch – is 4,166. That means, on average, there should be one critical catapult failure every 4,166 launches. The actual data to date show a MCBCF of 340.

    So what does failure mean? With steam, it is physically there, and just released. The EMALS power is created and released at the same time, and if there isn't enough -- it fails. So every 340 launches we'll have a $100 million F-35 sputter forward and roll off the bow! And what about an E-2D or C-2 with lots of passengers?

  10. I must admit confusion.

    Is this a new idea, of installing systems that are still on the drawing board or has the navy always been installing systems before their time, and maturing them on the fly?

    ITs an odd idea. I get you want the latest, newest, greatest, etc, yet....
    On a military application, it just seems mental..
    The worrying thing for mine is the anonymous poster with the first comment.
    That the EMAL's system was a failed development, that was adopted regardless... I always assumed that corruption couldn't be that entrenched in the upper echelons of western militaries, but i can't think of any other possible cause for systems which aren't passing their own benchmarks being bought into production items.

    Those fail rates, while very high, aren't really an indicator of how messed up a system is. For e.g., if you have one critical point of fail, that is always failing, replacing that all of a sudden ups your reliability but factors, so, this might not be end game scenario,
    But clearly, for now, the Ford's no carrier, just the worlds largest paper weight.

    1. The system can also be messed up without actual failures such as the inability to launch Hornets and Growlers in operational configurations (ie, with fuel tanks).

      More worrisome is that EMALS has been in development for at least six years (a launch was conduced in 2010) and certainly more before that. So, for ten years or so of development, to be at the failure rates that it is, is troubling.

    2. "Is this a new idea, of installing systems that are still on the drawing board or has the navy always been installing systems before their time, and maturing them on the fly?"

      I thought you'd been following this blog for some time? The phenomenon is called concurrency which is the practice of simultaneous R&D and production. The Navy (and the military) has adopted it as standard practice with uniformly disastrous results. F-35, LCS, Ford, and Zumwalt have all utilized concurrency, to name a few.

    3. Sorry, misunderstanding,
      You're talking years, I meant decades.
      I know what concurrency is, but, you're referencing
      Ford, Zumwalt, F35
      These are all current designs.

      Im asking, where these stunts being pulled on : Nimitz, Perrys, Burkes, F-16, F-15, etc, etc,
      Or only on the current generation of developed weapons?

    4. I believe concurrency is a relatively recent vice.

      I'm not sure what the original logic was, but not only does it create the issues we are seeing now; but it also makes a huge back-upgrade problem. You build 100 F-35's only to find that you need an additional bit of strengthening in the middle and those 100 you've already built have to go back to the depots.

      its a mess.

    5. "Im asking, where these stunts being pulled on : Nimitz, Perrys, Burkes, F-16, F-15, etc, etc,"

      To the best of my knowledge, the practice is relatively new. There may have been isolated instances of concurrent development in the past but nothing approaching basing an entire new platform on non-existent technology.

      The V-22 may have been the first example of an entire platform based on non-existent technology. To be fair, I'm not sure just how developed the technology was when the V-22 production contract was issued. Certainly, the aircraft underwent years of development before achieving even the degree of success that it has. I may be mischaracterizing this. I would have to research this further to be sure.

    6. Roger,
      Thank you gentlemen,
      Exactly what i was asking.
      Well, its a good thing to try new things. How else will you drive innovation forward? So, concurrency has been tried, and demonstrably failed. I can't think of a single platform that the US has developed in the last decade which has launched to wide acclaim of acceptable levels of success.
      Its been tried, hopefully there are enough clever people in the right places that have the ability to both recognise that its a failed concept, or at least a failing concept, and either revert to a formally more successful methodology, or at least try something different again.
      I simply dont see how "You build 100 F-35's only to find that you need an additional bit of strengthening in the middle and those 100 you've already built have to go back to the depots. " could possibly be an acceptable design plan.
      Eurofighters may need to be completely rebuilt, something about issues with wrong rivets being used destroying rear sections of airframes prematurely. At least thats attributable to build fault, using wrong rivets, incorrectly, rather than an inherent design flaw.
      What happens on the day you discover a design flaw so profound, that its simply not fixable without a virtual rebuild? Such as may be the case with the LCS gearboxes, maybe? You've now built inoperable assets that have zero value that will never generate a return.

      Anyway, thanks for the replys.

    7. If you're interested in our design and acquisition practices, the book "Electronic Greyhounds" by Michael Potter, is an excellent source. It's about the design and acquisition of the Spruance class and he discusses the change from the classic Navy-driven approach to the current industry-driven approach. Many lessons to be had from that program, good and bad. I highly recommend it.

    8. Unfortunately, "Electronic Greyhounds" has apparently taken on a cult-like status and sells for a minimum of $100.00.

    9. Glad I got mine when it was reasonable!

      I know it's a hit on the budget but it really is a worthwhile read on so many levels and so many topics. Even at $100, if you can swing it, it is worth the money.

  11. Can't isolate parts of the EMALS. A basic switchgear design and build service from the power industry would solve this before hand

    Sounds like inexperienced ship designers trying their hands at power issues.

    Zumwalt Zumwalt oh where are your power problems hidden with the rail guns

    Repeat story in two years after a couple of test shots with those rail guns. Zumwalt do I hear Zumwalt repeat

    1. Nahh, well, on zumwalt 1003 sure, but, the current one is apparently sticking to the 155mm deck guns

    2. "Sounds like inexperienced ship designers trying their hands at power issues."

      You might want to check out this post from the archives.

      General Board and BuShips

    3. So why get rid of all that in house expertise?

      Thanks for the archive

    4. Pure Navy politics. The CNO felt threatened by the General Board's power and abolished it. I really don't know the reason why BuShips was abolished.

      I trace the Navy's current woes back to the loss of the General Board and BuShips.

  12. “It was timely to get EMALS in the 2004 budget, more than a year ahead of the 2005 BRAC,” Smith said. “I believe EMALS was one of the key reasons Lakehurst was not closed. This type of carrier research is done nowhere else but here.”

    So funding began 12 years ago as a program to save an airbase from closing. Keep in mind that most of the testing was done with deadweights of just a few thousand pounds. There are lots of videos of aircraft testing, but none show any ordnance loaded or extra tanks, and the aircraft is probably near empty of fuel. You'd think they'd want to launch a fully loaded FA-18F 200 times in a row at Lakehurst before they even would consider the system for a ship. But they knew that was impossible. So who wants to blow the whistle and lose their job? Unlike other systems, you can't do concurrency when lives are at stake.

    And they system has a big pit on the deck for launching. I wonder how all that will do when seawater washes cross the deck and fill it up. Pictured here:

    And what are the safety concerns about have a trench across the deck? I can see sailors and stuff falling in each day, not to mention an occasional aircraft.

    1. They are going to cover the trench for the real thing, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other worries.

      I've noted below that the ability of EMALS to stand up to combat is pretty much untested.

  13. Actually, this makes me wonder, even if they can get the EMALS working, how well will it fare during normal usage?

    1. A carrier by nature is going to be subject to some pretty harsh conditions. How well will this EMALs fare?

    2. What about combat damage? What will happen there?

    3. What will happen if electricity is interrupted? With steam at least you had the physical steam, but with EMALS .... I'd be worried you're sending a plane into the ocean.

    Anyways, an article if you are interested from last year that I linked:

    1. I'm guessing that by the time they get to launch, the chance of power failure is about as likely as the chance of a steam failure, in theory.

    2. By nature, that will be difficult because of the way the EMALS is designed. With steam, the energy is in the steam itself.

    3. "3. What will happen if electricity is interrupted? With steam at least you had the physical steam, but with EMALS .... I'd be worried you're sending a plane into the ocean."

      To be fair, "cold shots" happen on a regular though infrequent basis with steam catapults and planes have been dumped in the ocean as a result of a soft shot.

    4. Fair comment.

      But judging by the percentage on EMALS, this could be much higher.

      Even if it doesn't, it is insane to be risking an entire ship class around this largely unproven technology.

    5. Oh, you're quite right! The current reliability wouldn't even allow the ship to launch aircraft due to the risk, I wouldn't think.

      My guess, at this point, is that Ford will remain non-functional for the first few years of life. Kind of like how the Wasp never deployed.

  14. So, the Ford will be joining the fleet in ....2020, maybe?

    1. Ford will join the fleet this year or next, according to schedule. Ford will become functional sometime in the next several years, I hope.

  15. Magna Force PMALS. Permanent magnet aircraft launch system. Designed as an alternative. More of a mechanical brute force system that has many of the same benefits but more robust, simpler, more reliable and less costly. Won't be used because of the big lobbyists, big companies. They also have non contact linear permanent magnet braking concepts for the arrestor system. Admiral Thomas Bibb Hayward and other top naval folks have seen it but they know the navy never admits failure. Google Magna Force PMALS and read the article written in 2010 U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Sept. 2010, volume 136, issue 9, page 72. Developed by a patriot to our country as an alternative, not to compete.

    1. Magna force pmals is the real deal. Just read about it at above location. I helped design it. We can make as much force as needed easily. We could rip the aircraft in half ! I'm so sick of lobbyists! Go MagnaForce!!!

  16. You know...........there is another catapult out there that replaces EMALS. Even fits in the same launch troughs. Much lighter, cheaper, 3.5 times as powerful as EMALS,has full closed loop control and is 95 percent off the shelf. Been working this for 20 years and have incorporated the latest technology where it makes sense. The name is FireCatand it is superior to either the steam catapult or EMALS. I headed up the original team from Newport News to offer this catapult in Shipbulding in the mid 90's.competition with General Atomics who were masters at PowerPoint engineering. At that time it was named ICCALS. I madede the mistake of bringing Lockheed on to the team. That killed us.

    FireCat allows an easy backfit to the LHA Wasp and America Class LHAs at a cost of less than one F35 to add the capability of a full-bore strike carrier to our amphibious fleet.

    Cheap,powerful, off the shelf, light weignt and easily capable of full launch control. Also fits the Ford and weighs a huge amount less and gives back the berthing space that EMALS trashed..

    Clint Stallard


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