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US Navy expects to deploy carrier Ford during third quarter

The US Navy expects to deploy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford during the third quarter. (Michael Fabey)

The US Navy (USN) plans to operationally deploy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) during the third quarter of this year, Rear Admiral James Downey, USN Aircraft Carriers Program executive officer, said on 21 January.

The carrier is now going through a planned maintenance availability following shock trials and testing, Rear Adm Downey noted during a press briefing on the status of the navy's carrier force.

After that, the ship “will do workups” during the second quarter into the third, he explained. At the end of the time, he said, Ford would sail “to multiple theatre of operations with multiple allies with its strike group and air wing”. The ship is to deploy to areas that include “more nations than I can briefly summarise,” he noted.

However, Rear Adm Downey added, exactly where and when that deployment will occur is “not publicly releasable”.

The deployment is a signficant one – being the first with such operational tasking. However, Rear Adm Downey underscored Ford 's operations to date – qualifying or requalifying more than 400 pilots even while the ship was undergoing testing.

Ford has been an operational carrier for some time, he pointed out. “She is the 11 th carrier.”

Still, many detractors to the Ford-class programme have highlighted the lack of overseas deployments, such as the one being planned for Ford , as an example of operational failure for the new carriers. Issues with new technologies on the carriers – including its advanced launching, recovery, and elevator systems – have delayed the ship's entrance into the fleet.

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