Monday, January 7, 2013

Status of CVN-78-class Aircraft Carrier Program

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program

CVN-78, CVN-79, and CVN-80 are the first three ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).

CVN-80 is scheduled to be procured in FY2018. The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $13,874.2 million (i.e., about $13.9 billion) in then-year dollars.

Under the Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget, the ship is to receive advance procurement funding in FY2016-FY2017 and be fully funded in FY2018-FY2023 using six-year incremental funding.

The FY2013 budget proposes to lengthen the construction period for the ship by two years, so that the ship is delivered in 2027, rather than in 2025, as projected under the FY2012 budget.

Although the ship is being procured in FY2018, the new delivery date of 2027 is what in the past might have been expected for a carrier procured in FY2020.

The Navy states that lengthening the construction periods of CVNs 79 and 80 by two years will not temporarily reduce the carrier force to less than 11 ships, but will instead eliminate some instances of when the carrier force would have temporarily numbered 12 ships.

Oversight issues for Congress for the CVN-78 program include the following:
-- cost growth in the program;
-- where the estimated procurement costs of CVNs 78, 79, and 80 now stand in relation to the legislated procurement cost caps for the ships, and whether the cost caps should be amended;
-- whether to approve the Navy’s request for using six-year incremental funding to procure CVN-79 and CVN-80;
-- whether to procure CVN-79 and CVN-80 together in a two-ship block buy; and
-- CVN-78 program issues that were raised in a December 2011 report from the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).

As the CRS does not make its reports public, this report is hosted by the Federation of American Scientists on its website.

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