Ford class aircraft carrier
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Why is America constantly testing “shock trial” to its new super-carrier?


The US Navy for the second time detonated explosives next to the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier to test the resistance of this giant aircraft carrier. 

As the first aircraft carrier of the Ford-class, the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is undergoing intense trials to test the ship’s structure and combat performance.

The US Navy on July 16 conducted the second comprehensive shock test (FSST) with the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford. The explosive block was activated under the sea near the ship to test the ability to maintain combat power after receiving shocks from underwater explosions at close range.

The explosion took place about 160 kilometers off the coast of Florida. The US Geological Survey (USGS) announced that the test generated a tremor as strong as a 3.9-magnitude earthquake.

The Pentagon says the USS Gerald R. Ford is undergoing commissioning in the Atlantic Ocean and preparing for its third FSST test, scheduled for later this month.

The US Navy has held many simulated explosions to test the endurance of warships, most recently with the littoral combat ships USS Jackson and USS Milwaukee in 2016. The last time the US tested the endurance of an aircraft carrier was in 1987 with the USS Theodore Roosevelt

High-intensity testing against the first Ford-class aircraft carrier is essential for the US to evaluate and learn from the construction of future ships. The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford was built in 2009, launched in 2013, handed over to the US Navy in 2017. The ship cost then was 12.6 billion USD, exceeding the original estimated budget by 2.4 billion dollars and the most expensive in history. The Ford-class aircraft carrier that the US is building is expected to replace the Nimitz-class carriers that the navy is using.

With a higher displacement of nearly 100,000 tons, the overall Ford class still has the appearance of the Nimitz, but they are much more automated, which reduces the number of crew members significantly. In addition, the deck area is also designed to be larger, to meet the frequency of take-off and landing twice as much as the previous generation.

Instead of using a steam launch system as before, the USS Gerald R. Ford super-carrier will use an electromagnetic launch system (EMALS) that is lighter in weight, takes up less space, but has more higher performance compared to steam catapults. EMALS does not require too much manpower to operate and is more reliable and energy-efficient. The system is capable of launching an aircraft in 45 seconds, 25% faster than the steam launch system.

According to military commentator Jurica Dujmovic of Market Watch, the combat capability of the USS Gerald R. Ford is considered excellent. The Evolved SeaSparrow (ESSM) air defense missile equipped on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford is responsible for protecting the ship from the threat of high-speed anti-ship missiles. The USS Gerald R. Ford is also protected from threats by the Rolling Airframe (RAM) short-range air defense missile. This is a small and light missile with a weight of 73.5 kg, of which the warhead weighs 11.3 kg. The missile has a range of 9 km and a speed above Mach 2.

In addition, the USS Gerald R. Ford was also equipped with many machine gun turrets and Gatling revolvers. Normally, the ship is capable of carrying 75 aircraft of all kinds, but when necessary, it can be increased to a maximum of 100 aircraft.

Despite being a giant aircraft carrier, thanks to automation, the USS Gerald R. Ford only needs 2,600 sailors to operate, 600 fewer than a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.

By reducing the number of sailors serving on the carrier, the US Navy saves more than $4 billion in operating costs over the ship’s 50-year life, compared with the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

USS Gerald R. Ford also possesses an impressive power source when they are equipped with two Bechtel A1B nuclear reactors. Each of these nuclear reactors produces about 300 MW of electricity, more than three times the capacity of the nuclear reactors on the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

The huge energy source is associated with strong firepower when the excess electricity can be used to operate laser weapons. USS Gerald R. Ford will be equipped with laser weapons systems to protect the ship from enemy attacks.

With modern technology and advanced weapons, the super-carrier USS Gerald R. Ford really carries a formidable power to help the US maintain its naval superiority in the 21st century.


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