The Navy is making lethality enhancing “modifications” to its next several new Ford-class aircraft carriers, to include integrated “digital shipbuilding” and weapons-oriented adjustments intended to further increase overall aircraft carrier combat effectiveness.
The initiatives, according to Navy statements, involve specific aircraft carrier modifications intended to, among other things, improve the maritime warfighting potential of the soon-to-arrive F-35C and MQ-25 Stingray drone aerial refueler.
These now-underway modifications, which Navy developers specify do not included changes to the F-35C or Stingray themselves, are in part intended to step up aircraft carrier attack abilities on the open sea, made manifest by the Navy’s recent a cost-saving two-carrier buy.
All of this is enabled by a two-carrier Navy buy of its next several Ford-class carriers. Instead of stove-piping or separating purchases for its next two carriers, the Navy has awarded a contract to Huntington Ingalls Industries to build both the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80) and a fourth Ford-class carrier – CVN 81.
“Integrated Digital Shipbuilding is key to achieving the production efficiencies of the two-CVN buy. The Navy and the shipbuilder are investing in iDS, which will reduce the amount of production effort required to build Ford-class carriers, William Couch, Naval Sea Systems Command spokesman, told Warrior Maven.
Alongside the intended cost-saving of more than $ 4 billion associated with the block buy, the Navy is also streamlining weapons and war-technology development for its F-35C, Mk 38 gun system and MQ-25 Stingray drones.