Carrier Ford returns as ship-class work advances

by Michael Fabey

Aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford successfully used its new launching systems for reliable sortie operations during the ship's first official deployment. (Michael Fabey)

US Navy (USN) aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) returned from its first official deployment in late November as shipbuilder HII acknowledged further work on other Ford-class carriers at its Newport News Shipbuilding yard.

Speaking to financial analysts in early November, Christopher Kastner, HII president and CEO, noted the recent keel-laying for the Ford-class Enterprise (CVN 80).

Besides, “CVN 79 [ John F ] Kennedy is moving further into the test programme and began testing of the electromagnetic launch system”, Kastner said during the 3 November call.

The Ford-class Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) was put to the test during CVN 78's first deployment.

Ford , flagship of the Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG), returned on 26 November to Naval Station Norfolk, after successfully completing its inaugural deployment throughout the Atlantic while conducting exercises and port visits with allies and partners.


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Holding the line: Australia prioritises cyber defence

by Oishee Majumdar

ADF personnel and defence industry officials participate in the Australian Defence Force's Cyber Skills Challenge held in November 2023 in Canberra. (Commonwealth of Australia)

Australia has bolstered efforts to enhance cyber-defence capabilities to prevent and mitigate cyber attacks against critical infrastructure. For the Australian Defence Force (ADF), cyber defence is an integral part of a wider endeavour to strengthen military preparedness for modern hybrid warfare. The extensive use of cyberwarfare in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has provided an impetus to such ADF efforts.

Australia's Defence Strategic Review (DSR), released in April 2023, highlighted the need for the ADF to scale up cyber and information operations to counter growing “non-geographic security threats”, particularly cyber. “[The Australian Department of Defence (DoD)] must enhance its cyber domain capabilities to deliver the required responsiveness and breadth of capability to support ADF operations,” the DSR said.

The DSR added that the DoD needs to focus on integrating the defence of command, control, communications, and computers (C4) networks and architectures; delivering a coherent and, where possible, centralised cyber domain capability development and management function; and building and sustaining a trained cyber workforce.

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Croatia takes over formal ownership of first Rafale fighters from France

by Gareth Jennings

Croatia took over official ownership of six Rafale combat aircraft from France on 23 February. (Croatian MoD)

Croatia has taken over formal ownership of the Dassault Rafale combat aircraft to be received from France.

The Croatian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the development on 23 February, saying it now owns the first six of 12 Rafales it has ordered.

This milestone came about five months after the first Rafale was handed over to the Croatian MoD during a ceremony at the French Air and Space Force (Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace: AAE) base at Mont-de-Marsan in early October 2023.

Croatia selected the Rafale in May 2021 to replace its ageing MiG-21s. A deal for EUR1.15 billion (USD1.21 billion) was signed in November 2021, with payments to run from 2021 to 2026. The 12 surplus AAE Rafale aircraft comprise 10 single- and two twin-seaters at the F3-R standard. Further to these aircraft, Croatia is receiving simulators, training, and other support to run through until the final quarter of 2026. Aircraft deliveries are scheduled to be completed in 2025.

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French, Finnish, and Swedish forces to embark on US amphibious ships for NATO exercise in Norway

by Michael Fabey

NATO forces conducted amphibious landings during ‘Cold Response 2022'. The alliance's ‘Nordic Response' will build on these operations. (Janes/Michael Fabey)

Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) arrived in Harstad, Norway, on 21 February to embark Finnish and Swedish forces, which will combine with the French forces that joined the ship in Portsmouth, UK, to conduct amphibious training exercises in Norway, the US Navy (USN) said in a release.

Gunston Hall will be joined by Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi and amphibious transport dock San Giorgio to participate in the NATO exercise, ‘Steadfast Defender 2024', the USN said.

During ‘Steadfast Defender,' Gunston Hall will also participate in related NATO exercises ‘Joint Warrior' and ‘Nordic Response', the USN noted.

‘Nordic Response' will continue and build upon some of the same amphibious operations the joint national forces conducted for the exercise, ‘Cold Response 2022', also conducted in Norway, US Marine Corps officials told Janes in early February 2024.

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US Navy (USN) aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) returned from its first official deploymen...

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