Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Ford Problems Continue

Here’s an update on the Ford’s continuing problems as documented in the DOT&E 2017 Annual Report.  Some of these problems are stunning and strongly suggest that the Ford is not even capable of routine operations.

·    “As of June 2017, the program estimates that EMALS has approximately 455 Mean Cycles Between Critical Failures (MCBCF) in the shipboard configuration, where a cycle represents the launch of one aircraft. While this estimate is above the rebaselined reliability growth curve, the rebaselined curve is well below the requirement of 4,166 MCBCF. At the current reliability, EMALS has a 9 percent chance of completing the 4-day surge and a 70 percent chance of completing a day of sustained operations as defined in the design reference mission without a critical failure.”    -  This means that the Ford is currently unable to conduct high intensity – meaning war – operations.

·    “The reliability concerns are exacerbated by the fact that the crew cannot readily electrically isolate EMALS components during flight operations due to the shared nature of the Energy Storage Groups and Power Conversion Subsystem inverters onboard CVN 78. The process for electrically isolating equipment is time-consuming; spinning down the EMALS motor/generators takes 1.5 hours by itself. The inability to readily electrically isolate equipment precludes EMALS maintenance during flight operations, reducing the system operational availability.”   -   EMALS doesn’t work reliably and can’t be readily fixed.  That’s a disturbing combination.  How did a system that can’t be isolated and repaired on the fly ever get past the first conceptual design meeting?  This is Navy engineering design incompetence on an almost unimaginable scale.  Yes, I understand that the Navy didn’t design the EMALS but they did review it and failed utterly to spot a major, major flaw.

·    “In June 2017, the Program Office estimated that the redesigned AAG had a reliability of approximately 19 Mean Cycles Between Operational Mission Failures (MCBOMF) in the shipboard configuration, where a cycle represents the recovery of one aircraft. This reliability estimate is well below the rebaselined reliability growth curve and well below the 16,500 MCBOMF specified in the requirements documents. In its current design, AAG is unlikely to support routine flight operations. At the current reliability, AAG has less than a 0.001 percent chance of completing the 4-day surge and less than a 0.200 percent chance of completing a day of sustained operations as defined in the design reference mission. For routine operations, AAG would only have a 53 percent chance of completing a single 12 aircraft recovery cycle and a 1 percent chance of completing a typical 84 aircraft recovery day.”   -  Are you kidding me?!  A zero percent chance of conducting war operations and only a fifty/fifty chance of recovering 12 aircraft????  Who let this abomination get this far?  This, alone, renders the Ford non-operational even for routine operations.

·    “[Dual Band Radar] Current test results reveal problems with tracking and supporting missiles in flight, excessive numbers of clutter/ false tracks, and track continuity concerns.  …  In limited at-sea operations, DBR exhibited frequent uncommanded system resets, and has had problems with the power supply system.”


There’s a common theme to all these problems and that is concurrency.  The Navy, despite every previous failed attempt at concurrent production and development, has stubbornly and stupidly insisted on pushing ahead with concurrent development and production and the results, predictably, are distressing.  We now have a commissioned warship that is not only utterly incapable of combat but can’t even conduct routine peacetime flight operations.  Some of these problems, like the AAG reliability, are not just slight deviations from specifications – they’re huge!  The AAG is, for all practical purposes, non-functional. 


The Ford may wind up being less of a warship than the LCS or Zumwalt !

67 comments:

  1. Start at Progream manager and fire all from there up- ending at the CNO.

    The Chinese or NORKS could not have a better job at eliminating one CVN.

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  2. I said it a few years ago, this might just be finally the program that breaks MIC, there should be NO WAY, NO HOW, that USN can hide the fact they bought a $13 billion dollar, 100K ton PAPERWEIGHT!!!

    It's a scandal that USN accepted Ford and a scandal and disgrace that media hasn't covered this fiasco!

    If even only half of this report is true, it's useless!!!


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  3. Will become the world's biggest helicopter carrier.

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  4. The Navy made a simple designation error,
    it is LHA9-Ford. Don't need EMALS or AAG now.
    Maybe we offer to re flag the HMS Prince of Wales ?
    It'll be available sooner the the AAG.

    Didn't the CinC say, "Digital is too complicated"
    Looks like water wheels are even more complicated.

    Ike

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  5. EMALS and AAG were totally screwed as soon as the contract was written. Those should have been developed by GE, or Westinghouse, someone who builds nuclear reactors and power plants etc. Not some up-jumped RC plane maker. All of these issues are exactly what anyone should have expected from a completely unqualified designer.

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    1. Just a bit of perspective ... I have no problem with an unqualified designer (assuming they were unqualified). That's what the free market takes care of. Those who are qualified will succeed. Those who aren't will perish. It's when the free market is bypassed and we pay for production BEFORE DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT IS FINISHED that we get into trouble. We didn't give the market a chance to weed out the losers.

      What should have happened is that the Navy should have issued a notice of need and then sat back and waited to see which designer could develop a system AT THEIR OWN COST and demonstrate a working prototype. At that point, you pay for a proven product. Yes, the product will cost a bit more as the manufacturer seeks to recover their developmental costs but at least you'll know that the product works.

      Instead, as I said, the Navy bypassed the market forces and chose a failed design. THAT'S NOT THE MANUFACTURER'S FAULT - THAT'S THE NAVY'S FAULT. Let me be 100% clear on this, it's the Navy's fault, not the manufacturer's.

      Delete
    2. Agreed but I wouldnt leave General Atomics totally off the hook. I think they made promises they knew they couldnt keep. Thats just my personal opinion though.

      But yeah, absolutely, there should have been multiple companies building launch and recovery systems. There was just zero reason to rush this. We could have built another Nimitz or two. And without the Ford money pit maybe keeping the Kitty Hawk, JFK, and Constellation around would have been a more attractive option.

      It really boggles the mind how the Defense Department has totally screwed the pooch the last 25 years. An unprecedented time where we should have been able to test and develop next generation tech at leisure, not having to pay any extra rushing things into front line service. All while our already vastly superior military was maintained properly. And what happens instead? Terrified that they might have to settle for $10 less in the next budget, programs are designed, almost exclusively, to be cancellation proof instead of combat effective.

      "Cant cancel us now! We already built half the crap!"

      "Cant cancel us now! We retired everything we relied on before just to pay for the production!"

      Ugh

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    3. General Atomics is not an "up-jumped RC plane maker"....GA is the nuclear reactor division of General Dynamics that was spun off into its own company. As far as new nuclear power generation is concerned GA is probably more important than either GE or Westinghouse/Toshiba.

      This was a management issue, not an engineering issue.
      Concurrency is the core problem, and it works both ways, ships get built with broken components to meet deadlines, and components never get fully developed/tested because the ship is waiting for them. If you work the bugs out of a system first then build a ship for it things work out fine. When the system is still in development and is faced with a hard deadline because the ship is already being built around it, this is what happens, you end up with a half-assed ship relying on half-assed systems that are a nightmare to fix.

      This is a problem faced across the board in engineering, putting the cart before the horse. The more complex a system becomes, the more critical it is to PROVE that individual components work on their own and integrate with each other.

      Delete
    4. Well damn! I didnt know any of that about GA. I thought they were just a drone company with a weird name. Everything you said about concurrency is true, but all of that doesnt even come close to excusing the colossal failure the AAG has turned out to be.

      Delete
    5. Again, just a bit of perspective. The first steam engine was a failure but over the years it was refined, improved, and eventually became a solid, reliable piece of technology.

      Similarly, the AAG will, if we choose to keep working on it, become a reliable piece of technology.

      The issue isn't the current state of the AAG, it's the fact that it was purchased for production before it was designed and developed - and that's purely the Navy's fault.

      The AAG should have stayed in R&D until it was ready and then it could have been seamlessly moved into the next carrier being built. No fuss. No problem.

      Delete
  6. How on earth.... how much of this is due, I wonder, to institutional rot, and how much of it is due to the fact that we no longer have guys in the Navy used to really preparing for, or experiencing, a real war?

    I have a hard time thinking that some Admiral just post war would sign off on a ship that can't conduct operations and can't be repaired easily.

    The AAG is horrifically bad. Its level of reliability isn't even beta. People landing on the carrier have to have significant pucker factor every time, worse than just the normal risk of a carrier landing.

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    1. I feel sorry for pilots...if these numbers hold up, they will start losing birds and pilots as soon as they start operating....

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  7. One wonders if the navy should have went with the Improved Nimitz class.
    Paul

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    1. I don't think there's much to wonder about. You've nailed it.

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    2. In the meantime the second Ford class carrier USS John F Kennedy is almost 50% complete. This article states that the USS Ford is a prototype. Hopefully they will learn something from this very expensive prototype's problematic systems
      http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/americas-second-ford-class-aircraft-carrier-almost-50-21783
      Paul

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  8. Looks like they will order 80 more F-35B than expected

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. i wonder, is there a single case in US history where a official from government, and/or armed forces and weapons development companies has gone to jail over a weapons procurement scandal ?

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    2. Well, I recall the case of a former top Air Force procurement official, Darleen Druyun, who was sentenced to several months in jail for a scandal involving the C-130 in the early 2000's but I don't think that's exactly what you're asking about. Regardless, that's about all I can recall off the top of my head.

      There's also a difference between criminal acts such as taking a bribe, issuing illegal contracts, illegal favortism, etc. and simple incompetence, no matter how vast the scale. The Ford, for instance, is an example of incompetence on a scale that is staggering and almost unbelievable but it is not legally criminal.

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    3. Druyon was directing deals to Boeing, first was the KC-767 tanker and later the Small Diameter Bomb. Despite her conviction and 9 months in prison, she apparently her pension. It pays to work for Uncle Sam.

      Delete
  10. This is indicitive of the standard issue that exists in many ares, not just engineering. The people making the final decisions on what is included or not, what goes ahead or is stopped, are NOT EXPERTS in the field. The decision-making comes down to how well suppliers can convinve decision-makers to allow them to have a go. Immediately you end up with unproven systems that are "developmental" at best installed as though they are fully reliability tested and proven.

    The worst case is when there are multiple barely "developmental" systems all put together , you end up with something that is constantly being "developed". It is always unable to fulfil it's mission, because there is something that has failed as that subsystem moves along a development pathway.

    If they'd gone with legacy arrester gear, and a mature radar system for Ford, EMALS would've been the developmental system, and all of the effort could've gone into maturing that. Then in the next ship tackle the AAG, and give yourself another 4 years of shore development as well.

    Never change more than 1 thing at a time, isolate the issue, solve it. Then move onto the next issue, as you move along the development curve the system matures and becomes useful.

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  11. Now then gentleman, taking one step back, what is the plan / options? As an observer from the other side of the pond I would be genuinely interested in your thoughts as to a solution. (You chaps are more informed than me). You're not going to scrap it, I assume retro fitting steam cats is impractical? Likewise arrestor gear?

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    1. There's nothing that can be done at this point except to go ahead and take however much time and money is required to make it work. Replacement of the systems is not economically viable. We've painted ourselves into a corner.

      The only alternative, if the cost to make it work is just too huge, is to scrap the ship but at $15B, that's not really an option, either.

      Delete
    2. Clive,
      I suggest using it as a target, preferably with the CNO on board. At least the new RN carriers have a semi working aircraft, that will be of some use in a few years. Can we borrow the Prince of Wales ?

      Delete
    3. As the others have said, not much can be done, EMALS and AAG are pretty much baked in, you can't really rip them out so FORD has to be fixed so it can be operational.

      The real sad part is that USA has old, mothballed carriers and even an old nuclear carrier ENTERPRISE. I bet it would have been way CHEAPER to repair the basic bare bone minimum to get them working or even the minimum required for the system needed to be tested, could have just stayed attached to pier or tugged into place for trials and saved some money compared to building FORD and not really being able to do much to it...just think how much money would have been saved not having really to repair these old carriers after the trails, nobody would have cared if we had to ripe out more than once the deck or not put it back all nicely back in place afterwards....

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    4. Scottg,
      On the basis we have no money and are buying F35b's at a snails pace, half the aeroplanes on QE and PoW will be USMC's anyway!

      Delete
    5. Cut holes in the flight deck, put as many VLS as will fit in the hangar deck.

      15 billion dollar arsenal ship.

      Delete
  12. AS far as I know, removing EMALS or AAG from FORD are none starters, we have to fix this to get something out of FORD.

    I think AAG is NOT going to be installed on the next carrier, what does that tell you?

    Real sad part is USA has old carriers that we could have taken out of mothballs to use as a test-bed, I bet it would have been a lot CHEAPER to use them or ENTERPRISE to test and work out all the kinks of all this new systems....crap, just not having to patch the deck and rework the carrier to operational norms would save billions, we could just have beat the crap out remaining life of these old carriers, nobody would have cared, they are retired and mothballed....just spend the minimum amount to get what was needed working and keep her attached to the pier probably would have been good enough.

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    1. "I think AAG is NOT going to be installed on the next carrier"

      As of Jan 2017, the Navy was committed to installing the AAG in all of the Ford class. Do you have information to the contrary?

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    2. Looks like I screwed up, I thought I read that AAG wasn't being retained for the next carriers, not sure what isn't being carried over from the Ford, swear some fancy system wasn't being carried over on the next carrier. My mistake.

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    3. http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/guest-voices/sd-me-grazier-ussford-20170606-story.html

      This article says USN looked into replacing the AAG with a modernized MK7 but decided to stick with the not very reliable AAG instead for JFK...I guess USN didn't send me the memo! ;)

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    4. "swear some fancy system wasn't being carried over on the next carrier"

      You may be thinking of the Dual Band Radar (DBR). It was planned for installation on the other Fords but was deemed too expensive and too complex for a carrier and was cancelled in favor of the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar (EASR).

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  13. A philosophical question raises in my mind about the two different Law systems, that is the European continental law and English law commonly described as:

    https://onlinelaw.wustl.edu/blog/common-law-vs-civil-law/


    So -

    " The Ford, for instance, is an example of incompetence on a scale that is staggering and almost unbelievable but it is not legally criminal."


    - " In civil law countries, judges are often described as “investigators.” They generally take the lead in the proceedings by bringing charges, establishing facts through witness examination and applying remedies found in legal codes.

    Lawyers ! ! still represent the interests of their clients in civil proceedings, but have a less central role"

    Do you think that the law system in the US has mutated as to allow such grievous wastes of resources to go ahead over time because there was no precedent of someone going to jail over similar things.

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    1. I'm not completely sure what you're saying or what point you're making. Maybe try again?

      Stupidity, no matter the magnitude, is not a crime nor is poor judgement even if on a phenomenal scale.

      People don't go to jail in the U.S. because of precedent, they go to jail because they violated a criminal code. Again, stupidity and bad judgement are not crimes even if we'd like them to be.

      The only recourse in a case like this is to fire the civilian and/or military leadership for poor performance but that's not a criminal proceeding. We fire Commanding Officers all the time for "loss of confidence" but that's not a criminal action or punishment.

      As I said, I'm not sure exactly what you were trying to say.

      Delete
    2. Ok , if I put it simple

      Can a US Attorney prosecute a weapons company for making false statement and promises?

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    3. They can - that would be fraud. However, the manufacturers have been doing this for a long time. They know how to word a contract to avoid fraud. They provide "estimates" of time and cost, not guarantees. It's not a crime to be wrong about an estimate.

      Unless an attorney could prove a pattern of intentional deceit, there is no crime and proving intent is almost impossible. It's not like the manufacturer has memos laying around that say, "let's defraud the government with knowingly fake estimates".

      I understand your frustration. We'd all like to see people sent to jail over this but it's simply not going to happen. What could happen - and the military should do this - is for the military to start firing Admirals for failure to properly oversee the program - "the infamous, loss of confidence - and then you'll suddenly see a whole lot more attention paid by the Admirals to the programs they're in charge of.

      Criminally prosecuting the COs of the McCain and Fitzgerald is a step in that direction but we need to prosecute the leaders above them, as well, all the up to the CNO.

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    4. Criminally prosecuting the COs of the McCain and Fitzgerald is a step in that direction but we need to prosecute the leaders above them, as well, all the up to the CNO.

      - Sadly, I think the prosecutions of the McCain and Fitz is just scapegoating. Yes, they might go to prison, but then the Navy will say 'Allrighty! Responsibility served!' and those higher up making stupid decisions which allowed the circumstances will skate.

      I'm about done with the Navy under current leadership. They waste money by the billions, and watch the fleet get slowly hollowed out.

      JFW

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    5. "Sadly, I think the prosecutions of the McCain and Fitz is just scapegoating."

      Oh, it is. No doubt about it. However, hopefully, it will have the impact of making other COs stop and tell their commanders that they aren't going to sail with expired certifications and risk criminal homicide charges. If it does that, it will have accomplished more than scapegoating even that wasn't the Navy's intent. I've got to believe that the Navy is already seeing a lot of COs resisting sailing orders. The Navy just isn't advertising that. Think about it. As a CO who's seeing your fellow COs charged with criminal homicide, would you agree to sail with expired certifications and set yourself up for homicide charges? I wouldn't!

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    6. "I'm about done with the Navy under current leadership."

      None of us has the power to magically fire all the current Navy leadership even though that's exactly what is needed. Instead, we only do our little bits. Call your Congressmen. Write a letter to SecNav. I operate this blog. If enough people were willing to do enough small things, we'd achieve big things.

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    7. So, regarding this conversation i guess the US politicians are not ready to unleash any legal action in witch to prosecute or even charge with some accusations a major weapons manufacturer.

      That however would be a healing experience for the whole US military industrial complex.

      And by jail i don't mean harsh things like 1930' Stalinism, where Stalin jailed some of his weapons constructors only to release them after germany invaided the USSR :D

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  14. We don't know and USN isn't saying BUT with EMALS taking 1.5 hours to go off line for repairs, is it still possible to maintain sustained operations with the other 3 EMALS because if USN talking about sustained operations with all 4 EMALS operational, that doesn't seem to be realistic considering the failure rate and the time it takes to repair...it's probably more realistic to see if USN can have sustained operations with 3 out of 4 EMALS working....

    Also, again, no news on this BUT can EMALS be even fixed with the regular crew? Afraid this complicated system will require contractors to be able to repair it....

    Did a quick look thru the DOT&E, I'll have to go back and read it again BUT I think it mentioned a lot of EM interference with FORD, no shit geniuses...the whole freaking ship is a giant electromagnetic!!!

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    1. As you undoubtedly know, EMALS is a series of giant electric motors. It's beyond belief but the motors were not constructed with electromagnetic shielding. EMALS is truly a giant electromagnetic beacon letting the enemy know exactly where it is. CNO Greenert referred to this in a portion of an interview in which he discussed the need for the Navy to relearn emissions control (EMCON) operations. My question is, when did the Navy abandon EMCON operations and what idiot CNO at that time thought it was a good idea. The Navy has been very badly served by its uniformed, "professional", leaders.

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    2. Hi Nico,
      From the article quoted in CNO's original post;
      "The inability to readily electrically isolate equipment precludes EMALS maintenance during flight operations, reducing the system operational availability.”

      That is consistent with something I read about EMALS, way back, how all 4 were either powered up or isolated, so no way to take number 4 cat down and continue launching with numbers 1-3. I don't have the reference anymore, unfortunately.

      But this one should do! http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/guest-voices/sd-me-grazier-ussford-20170606-story.html

      "Perhaps even more serious is that the design makes it impossible for the crew to repair a catapult while the ship is launching planes with other catapults. This is done as a matter of routine on current carriers as each catapult operates independently of the other.

      The Navy has found there is no way to electrically isolate each EMALS catapult from the others during flight operations.

      This means that repairing the failed catapult must wait until all flight operations have been completed, or, in the event that multiple launchers fail, all flights may have to be suspended to allow repairs.

      This problem is particularly acute because the EMALS has a poor reliability track record. The system thus far fails about once every 400 launches.

      That’s 10 times worse than the 4,166 launches between failures the system is supposed to achieve by contract."

      I particularly liked this quote from the linked article;
      "Testing has already revealed that the Navy underestimated the workload and the number of people necessary to operate the system. As a result, the Navy has to redesign some berthing areas to accommodate more people."

      A major justification for so much new technology at once was to reduce manning by 500 or so over previous CVNs, and thus 'save' a Billion or two over 50 years. That quote shows such a goal isn't likely to be achieved. There is also a reference to the new reactors, with increased automation - and the predictable shortcomings resulting from trimming the number of nuclear operators/maintainers/whatever.

      How a Star-ranked naval aviator approved or recommended this boondoggle just beggars belief. Surely there is a "Tomcat" Connelly somewhere out there? Anyone who has read about carrier combat operations would know some of these limitations were untenable - to say nothing of a USN Admiral with decades of experience on boats.

      Delete
    3. I think NICO is asking whether the catapult system could continue to operate if one of the cats were damaged/broken. We know they can't repair one while the others operate but it might be possible to continue operations with the undamaged ones. I don't know whether that's the case or not.

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    4. That's just crazy, I was under the impression you could at least isolate the failed catapult from the other remaining cats....this is just sheer madness.

      If it takes 1.5 hours to isolate and who knows how much time to spool back up, test,etc...how many hours are the cats down?!?!? 2, 3, maybe 4 hours? Is that normal?

      Anybody here serve on a carrier and tell us if this is normal and not a big deal that ALL 4 cats are down for hours?!?!?

      Delete
    5. IIRC they also thought EMALS would increase sortie rate. Ooops. Sortie rate is big with the Navy. It's part of the reason they went with the SuperHornet over an advanced Tomcat, IIRC.

      This is beyond a disaster.

      A Carrier that can't launch/recover craft

      A DDG built around land attack guns with no bullets

      An LCS/'Frigate' built on a commercial hull with few weapons, an ever decreasing speed due to increasing weight, and a ton of compromises made to get that speed.

      Hornets that are, maybe, adequate

      F-35C's that no one knows about

      Unmanned tankers that are unlikely to hold enough fuel for mission tanking

      It sounds like the island of misfit toys. But its our new, very expensive Navy.

      The only bright spots seem to only be bright in comparison to the black holes: LRASM might work as a decent subsonic ASM. The Virginia's, while expensive, do seem to have teeth and are deployable.

      No wonder we are building Burkes ad nauseum. It's the last design with a hot line that we know can at least deploy.

      And with all this.... the Navy still spends a ton of money and readiness is down across the board.

      I hate to sound like Donnie Downer, but I see no light at the end of the tunnel here.

      JFW

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  15. What is happening to CVN79? I know the radar has been "down graded" is it too late to change EMALS/AAG?

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  16. The Navy are fighting plans for the Ford, the Navy's costliest ship ever built $20+ billion including R&D, be subject to shock trials, my guess is they know Ford would fail abysmally and they would be unable to cover it up, the fallout of bad press for Navy is not to be allowed.

    Navy are pressurizing Sec. of DOD Mattis to delete funding of FSST for Ford from the 2019 budget request, delaying FSST six years for Enterprise, some time never, by which time top Admirals will be retired. Navy argument for delay is that by cancelling FSST Ford will achieve IOC earlier and Trump will be able to state Navy back to mandated twelve carrier fleet as he promised.

    Robert Behler Director of DOT&E rather more diplomatically said -

    “The CVN-78 is making progress, however, reliability of the newly designed catapults, arresting gear, weapons elevators and radar, which are all critical for flight operations, have the potential to limit the CVN-78 ability to generate sorties // Additionally, the survivability of these newly designed systems remains unknown until the CVN-78 undergoes full ship shock trials.”

    Bloomberg yesterday February 7 "Navy Presses Mattis to Delay ‘Shock Testing’ Costliest Carrier"

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  17. Guys - please write to your congress critters asking for HASC and SASC investigation into Ford debacle. Write to navy times asking for updates. Write to PDT at 1600 Pennsylvania. This is just the final straw in any Navy brass credibility.

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  18. I guess the admirals are happy, they got themselves the fanciest, most expensive trainer carrier ever because I don't see this ship ever going to war....

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    1. Ha. The Navy got better value out of this:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Wolverine_(IX-64)

      and it used paddle wheels.

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  19. "What is happening to CVN79? I know the radar has been "down graded" is it too late to change EMALS/AAG?"

    I'm guessing so, yes. For steam catapults to be installed, there have to be steam boilers and steam lines and runways that have to be installed; and there was no room for any of that in the Fords.

    Maybe the AAG can be torn out, and maybe they can figure out a way to electrically isolate the individual catapults with the Kennedy. That might at least get us a partially serviceable carrier. EMALS is a wreck, but it's not a complete dogs breakfast like AAG.

    IF not, cancel the last two and try to buy two 'Bush' class evolutions on the Nimitz design, IMHO.


    With such a lousy mean time between failure for the AAG, how will the Navy handle that? It's almost undeployable. If the arresting gear works, but the catapults are hinky, at least you can launch some planes for awhile and reliably get them back. If the arresting gear fails while a strike is returning?!?!?! Then what? Hope you can fix it before they run out of gas?

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    1. @Jim. Agree if these numbers hold and EMALS/AAG reliability stays low, how the heck can USN say this is a fully operational, combat ready ship?

      Like I said above this thread, if you only can operate 3 out 4 EMALS, what is the maximum sustained rate of ops? How long will the 3 cats stay down to repair the failed one? You need 1.5 hours to spool down! If you add the "repair" time plus I imagine it doesn't "spool" up in a minute, how many HOURS are the 4 cats down?!? Is that normal and acceptable? Anybody worked on a carrier tell us if this is normal? This thing might be so unrelaible, by the time you repair broken cat and get back to having 4 cats, another one breaks down! And that's assuming that your regular crew can fix it, I wouldn't be surprised if you need contractors to make some repairs....


      Same goes with AAG, it's so unreliable, does USN have to operate near shore to make sure Hornets/SHs can find alternate landing spot?

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    2. "I'm guessing so, yes. For steam catapults to be installed, there have to be steam boilers and steam lines and runways that have to be installed; and there was no room for any of that in the Fords."

      Nuclear reactors are used to produce steam, so you don't have to install boilers. The Ford's have extra large steam driven generators to provide electricity to the catapults. Previous carriers had catapults powered directly by steam. Theoretically, in place of the Ford's electrical electrical cables going up to the catapults, traditional catapult riser pipes could carry steam up to the cats. In place of capacitor banks, traditional steam accumulators. So, in theory, the emals could be removed and steam catapults retrofitted, but the nuts and bolts of it would be a huge undertaking.

      One of the design features of the Ford is NO steam pipes outside the propulsion plants.

      Just thought I'd clear that up. There is a common misconception that nuclear reactors directly produce electricity. Reactors create heat which boils water into steam which is used to power the ship's engines, generate electricity, and many auxiliary uses.

      MM-13B

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    3. At this point, I really don't see USN going back to steam cats, notwithstanding Trump saying to go back to stream, it ain't happening. JFK keel is already laid so there's no way you could redesign it on the fly and third carrier is probably already lining up parts and material PLUS, you have to spend even more money to redesign it?!? No way, USN is stuck and better fix EMALS or they are going to be stuck with 3 giant 100K ton paperweights!

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    4. EMALS will be fixed, its just how long is it going to take. The point is that the fix (i.e. the development of a developmental system) should have happened prior to installing it in a multi billion dollar carrier. If there are parts which have a low MTBF, learn that prior to installing on a ship.

      EMALS isn't a problem in and of itself, the system is a reasonably elegant solution to launching aircraft off a ship. Developing EMALS once already installed is a massive problem and should never have happened.

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    5. There should still be steam cat parts in inventory. The Nimitz class are in service and they have steam cats to be maintained for decades to come. I think the institutional challenges would be harder to overcome than the engineering challenges. Navy doesn't want to admit it screwed up.

      At this point it would be faster and cheaper to overhaul and re-commission the Kitty Hawk and the old JFK to get us up to 12 operational carriers.

      MM-13B

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    6. Thanks for the catch MM. I am a complete civilian and my knowledge is all book learning; and sometimes I screw that up.

      That would be a (sad, but useful) study.

      Would refitting JFK and KH to run another 15 years be a better use of resources then doing all the extra work to make Ford useful again?

      It might be so.

      I do think they should cancel the final two Fords, make changes to the Kennedy in production now, and build more upgraded Nimitz' like the Bush.

      I think they also need to concentrate more on ASW and on getting longer legs and more lethality in the air wing too if we are going to commit to carriers. But that's just IMHO.

      JFW

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    7. Jim, are you now "JFW" in anon comments, as opposed to your traditional "Jim Whall" comments? Just trying to keep track so I know who I'm talking to!

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    8. LOL Yes. I'm trying to anonymize my internet presence; mainly elsewhere. But I'm trying to get into the habit. Sorry if any confusion.

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  20. On a side issue USMC generally have a squadron on each carrier (not sure what the logic is to that,can someone explain?), when they go over to F35's which type will go where? C's on cvn's and b's on America's?

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    1. Marine carrier squadrons deploy for a variety of reasons: filling aircraft gaps in Navy air wings, broader pilot exposure and training, budget, etc. Given the current immense aircraft availability issues, there is no predicting what Marine squadrons might deploy on carriers in the future. We'll just have to wait and see.

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  21. Sorry, another question. I assume CVN's don't have the special covering on the decks for F35B operation?

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  22. Late to the conversation, but what will be the most likely path forward? This abysmal performance surely has to be addressed before she sees operational deployment, right??

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    1. There's only one path as far as the Navy is concerned and that is to keep pouring money into it until the various technologies work. The only question is how long that will take.

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