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In command: USS Ford deploys as US Navy retools strike group dynamics

The Ford - class design features changes meant to improve carrier operations. (HII)

As the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford made its arduous journey from development towards US Navy (USN) fleet operations, the spotlight always shone brightest on the ship's futuristic launching, recovery, and weapons-elevators systems.

However, now that the ship unmoored in the first week of October 2022 for its first deployment to lead the USN's inaugural Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group (CSG), USN officials are highlighting another set of technologies, which will change the operational concepts for those strike groups and the elemental foundation for American naval strategies and tactics.

“From a carrier strike group perspective, it's the command-and-control [C2] suite and dual-band radar [DBR] and all this brings to the table,” said Rear Admiral Gregory Huffman, commander of CSG 12, the Ford CSG.

“These are things we're going to be exploring while underway,” Rear Adm Huffman said. “How can we take advantage of this system and bring to the table [the] situational awareness onboard the flagship compared to what we've done traditionally in the past? We might be able to explore new tactics and new ways of operating.”

“We'll be incorporating more allies than we've done in [the] past into a single unit [and] into a single operation,” he added.

The Ford CSG needs to hone that from the very beginning, he explained, working with liaison officers onboard the carrier and polishing the individual and joint communications systems. “How are you going to talk to each other, and iron all that out in a seamless thing? As a strike group commander [on Ford ] it's incredibly different [than for previous carriers],” Rear Adm Huffman said.

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