The Ford class aircraft carrier can be equipped with laser weapons to counter China's "carrier killer".


The Ford class aircraft carrier can be equipped with laser weapons to counter China's

The Navy and Huntington Ingolls Shipbuilding Company have begun to integrate new radar, weapons and steel structures into the second new Ford, now 50 percent built, according to a September 1 article entitled Half the Most Powerful Carrier in the U.S. Navy's History. Class aircraft carrier "Kennedy" above.

Huntington Ingolls reported that, according to construction companies, the integration of one of the largest steel structures planned, namely the "super-components", will basically make significant progress on schedule. "The module, weighing about 905 tons, is one of the heaviest steel structures planned, the so-called super components, and will be assembled on the second Ford class aircraft carrier," the company statement said. Located between the hangar at the back of the carrier and the flight deck, the unit is 80 feet long, 110 feet wide and four decks high.

The picture shows Kennedy, USS Ford 2, under construction.

The developers also said that the combination of 19 smaller components into a super-component allowed Newport News Shipyard to install most outfitting equipment, including grilles, pumps, valves, distribution boards, fixed studs, lighting, ventilation and other components.

Huntington Ingolls announced earlier this year that the U.S. Navy had completed the construction of the underside of the stern. The company's developers have been using more modern construction strategies in the construction of the Kennedy, including a number of ways to reduce costs and draw lessons from the construction of the first Ford class carrier, the Gerald Ford, in recent years.

Huntington Ingolls reported in its August 31 announcement that hundreds of structural parts of projects such as pipeline assembly, cable wiring, ventilation shaft, rudder and strut have been completed in view of the fact that more than half of the new carriers have been built.

The aircraft carrier Kennedy will replace the Nimitz, which is scheduled to retire in 2027, and the Ford class carrier plans to replace the Nimitz class one-on-one over the next 50 years or so.

The construction technology used by the USS Kennedy included trying to assemble the cabins and components before shipping them to dry docks. This allows manufacturers to integrate aircraft carrier components more quickly, thus speeding up construction. The Huntington Ingolls approach, known as modular construction, was also used in the Ford construction: the company explained in the announcement that the process was to weld smaller aircraft carrier components together into larger structural "super components" and then hoist them into dry docks.

According to the introduction, the construction of aircraft carriers starts from the bottom of the ship and gradually extends upward along the inner bottom and the side of the hull, and then changes to assembly box components. First, the bottom 1/3 carriers of the aircraft carrier were built. In addition, according to the construction company, some of the design methods currently used by the Kennedy include assembling or forging, rather than casting, parts of the aircraft carrier in order to reduce process costs.

Researchers at Huntington Ingolls have been working hard to reduce the cost of making the Kennedy. Officials say the Kennedy will cost more than $1.5 billion less to build than the first Ford class carrier.

During the construction of the Ford, the Navy was heavily criticized by U.S. lawmakers and government watchdogs for rising costs. The construction cost of Ford is finally one billion dollars higher than the initial estimate. Construction cost overruns eventually led Congress to set a cost ceiling of $12 billion 900 million for the aircraft carrier.

At the time, Navy officials pointed out that the integration of new technologies posed some challenges. At least $3 billion of Ford's construction costs came from the so-called non-repetitive engineering costs of building such a first-class vessel. However, senior U.S. Navy officials have always said the Navy is making significant progress in its efforts to reduce the cost of the Kennedy.

In addition, the Newport Newcastle shipyard of Huntington Ingolls was able to procure a large number of components early in the Kennedy construction process, because unlike the Ford condition, the design of the aircraft carrier was completed before construction began.

As for the design, the Kennedy will be largely similar to the Ford design, with only minor modifications. The Kennedy will use a new radar, and its carrier-based elevator will use electric motors instead of hydraulic systems to reduce costs.

The Navy plans to test and operate a new highly sensitive ship defense radar technology for its second Ford class aircraft carrier to detect incoming enemy fire, anti-ship cruise missiles and air threats such as attack UAVs, fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters, the article said. The new radar, called the Enterprise Aerial Surveillance Radar (EASR), is expected to be equipped with the aircraft carrier Kennedy (Side CVN 79), which is currently being built, as well as amphibious naval vessels such as the amphibious assault ship LX (R) and its third large deck amphibious dock lander LHA-8. Navy officials say the test is scheduled for next year, and the technical research and development of EASR radar is in progress.

The EASR radar uses GaN semiconductor technology, which is based on the general hardware, software and processing elements of the Navy's next generation AN/SPY-6 (V) air defense and missile defense radar. The AN/SPY-6 (V) radar will be equipped with the US Navy's Burke class Flight III destroyer as planned. A senior Navy official told reporters last year: "EASR radar is a variant of the SPY-6 radar, using the same hardware, signal processing and data processing. The EASR radar will have additional air traffic control radar capabilities, which are not available for air defense and missile defense radars.

According to Raytheon's announcement, much like the SPY-6 radar, the EASR radar is designed to be network-enhanced and reliable. The Raytheon Co announcement said: "EASR radar has the cost and reliability benefits of gallium nitride. It uses digital beamforming and advanced algorithms to perform operations in high clutter, near-land electromagnetic interference environments.

Radar engineers describe the AN/SPY-6 radar as 35 times as powerful as the most advanced shipborne radar system. Researchers say it can detect objects twice the distance and half the size of existing radars. For radar, the recognition coefficient of air defense and missile defense radar is increased by 15 decibels, which is equivalent to the function and sensitivity enhancement of existing AN/SPY-1D radar about 35 times.

AN/SPY-6 air defense and missile defense radar consists of S-band and X-band radar and a radar suite controller. Together, these techniques can scan, track, and search the horizon and surrounding areas for threats by sending electromagnetic signals into the atmosphere and then analyzing the signals returned after their arrival is blocked. This information can be used to provide information about the size, shape, location and trajectory of a missile or other threat of attack.

Similar to its predecessor, the Aegis AN/SPY-1D radar, the air defense and missile defense radar includes a phased array radar, U.S. Navy officials said. According to the Navy, the S-band radar is designed for long-range detection, while the X-band radar has over-the-horizon search capability. This radar is most suitable for air defense and ballistic missile defense missions, but it can also be used in anti-ship and anti-artillery operations. Similar to AN/SPY-1D radars, air defense and missile defense radars can also scan the water surface to assist in determining where the fire-control technology necessary to intercept an incoming threat is available.

The power system of the Ford and Kennedy aircraft carriers, powered by four 26-megawatt generators, is much better than that of previous carriers. The system will make it possible for new weapons, such as defensive lasers and orbital guns, and has sparked a lot of discussion. "In addition to carrying more than 75 military aircraft, the Ford (and Kennedy) carriers also have some significant destructive capabilities," a report on Engineering website Engineering.com wrote. Engineers and designers loaded improved "sparrow" missiles, rotary missiles and short-range defense weapon systems (CIWS) onto aircraft carriers.

It is believed that the modern threat of rapid movement is stimulating a new generation of warship defense technologies suitable for naval carriers, including interceptor missiles, torpedo defense, electronic warfare and even laser. These systems are being tightened up on carriers Ford and Kennedy because of emerging weapons from potential adversaries such as hypersonic missiles, long-range anti-ship weapons and electronic warfare attacks.

The article argues that this is especially true in view of the often discussed DF-21D carrier killer missile. Dongfeng -21D is a long-range anti-ship guided missile with a range of more than 900 miles. The Pentagon's report on China's military also calls China's Dongfeng-26 missile a cause for major concern.

Ford is expected to carry an improved Sparrow Block 2 missile, a weapon used to track and destroy threats such as enemy supersonic and anti-ship missiles. In previous interviews, U.S. Navy and industry developers of the improved "Sparrow" missile told the Warrior Expert website that the "Sparrow" Block 2 missile uses so-called active guidance systems, which means that the missile itself can improve flight or target by receiving and actively sending electromagnetic signals. Standard guidance.

Currently, the improved Sparrow missile uses a semi-active guidance system, meaning that the missile itself can receive electromagnetic signals from the target by means of illuminators; Navy and Raytheon officials explained that the improved Sparrow Block 2 missile's "active" guidance includes the missile built in. Illuminator technology, so that the missile can receive and transmit important electromagnetic signals. Shipborne illuminator is a RF signal that bounces off from the target body. Raytheon officials told the Warrior Expert website that the antenna in the missile's guidance head detects the reflected energy and then corrects it to intercept it. The new missile has an "active" front-end, which means it can send electromagnetic signals outward to track maneuvering targets, often without the need for shipborne illuminators to guide. Navy officials explained that the missile could also intercept threats approaching the surface by skimming the sea or dive into the target from a higher altitude.

CIWS is a defensive weapon that covers a short range to destroy or shoot down enemy fire before it reaches a ship. The CIWS system can launch up to 4500 rounds per minute, providing protection for ship platforms for decades. The system uses a 20 mm "Fire God" rapid fire gun mounted on a rotating base. An article in naval strength magazine once called CIWS system.


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