The Navy has finally released some details about the long awaited, improved Ford class Flt II variant now scheduled to begin construction after the completion of CVN-82, the last Ford Flt I. The Flt II carrier will be 125 ft longer than the current Ford which the Navy claims will enable a 47% increase in sortie rate.
The Navy also revealed planned modifications to the air wing composition. The Flt II air wing will consist exclusively of F-35C squadrons in place of the traditional F-18 Hornet squadrons. As hinted several years ago, the F-35 squadrons will be reduced in size from the current 12x F-18s per squadron to 8x F-35Cs per squadron.
Navy spokesman, Capt. Bill Melader, explained the smaller squadrons,
With fewer aircraft and a significantly larger flight deck, aircraft crowding will be reduced and we’ll be able to greatly increase the sortie rate by streamlining aircraft deck movements and repositionings which will allow us to operate the F-35 at much higher rates. This will more than compensate for the smaller squadron size and allow us to keep more F-35s in the air than we could have with larger F-18 air wings. (1)
The smaller F-35 squadrons will result in the air wing being reduced to around 50 aircraft including 32x F-35 (4 squadrons of 8x) plus assorted E-2 Hawkeyes, unmanned tankers, helos, and a future electronic warfare F-35 variant that will replace the EA-18G Growler.
The Navy also announced that the first Flt II Ford will be named the USS Carol Turner to commemorate the first female chief of the Navy Dental Corps who held the position from November 2003 to August 2007.
(1)Broken Defense website, “Navy Previews Ford Class Flt II and New Air Wing Composition”, Sue Medude , 1-Apr-2021,