Military Aviation

Ford Aircraft Carrier John F. Kennedy to Deliver to the US Navy one year later

According to Fiscal Year 2024 budget, John F. Kennedy’s (CVN-79), the next Ford-class aircraft carrier, will now deliver to the US Navy in 2025, one year later than the service’s most recent projection.

According to Fiscal Year 2024 budget documents released two weeks ago, the next Ford-class aircraft carrier will now deliver to the US Navy in 2025, one year later than the service’s most recent projection.

As reported by USNI News, according to the US Navy service’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget documents, the service delayed future carrier John F. Kennedy’s (CVN-79) delivery date from June 2024 so the US Navy could alter the ship’s Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) and perform more work during construction.

“The Navy is implementing a strategy to pull baseline work from the Post Shakedown Availability (PSA) into the construction period in order to provide more capability at ship delivery,” the Navy’s shipbuilding budget books read.

According to the service, the altered schedule will ensure Kennedy is ready to deploy to the Indo-Pacific.

The documents read;

“This approach will prepare CVN-79 as the first FORD class aircraft carrier to operate in the Indo-Pacific region and decrease the amount of time CVN-79 would be required to be at the shipyard after ship delivery to conduct the PSA. CVN-79s PSA will align to a traditional period of resolving discrepancies discovered during trials. The revised strategy maintains the overall ‘ready for deployment workups’ milestone for CVN-79.”

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According to the budget books, “In 2020, the Navy switched from pursuing a dual-phase delivery for Kennedy to a single-phase delivery. That decision added two years of work to Kennedy‘s detailed design and construction contract. The additional work and schedule are so Newport News can include alterations for the carrier to field the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, the Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar, and fix issues that the shipbuilder found when building USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), according to the budget books.”

Kennedy was slated for a 2022 delivery when the carrier was christened at HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding in December 2019. But the Navy at that time was still pursuing the dual-phase delivery plan, in which Newport News would build most of the ship, pause the work, and then install additional systems later.

The goal of the dual-phase delivery was to save the Navy money on construction schedules in the yard while avoiding significant overlap between Kennedy entering the fleet and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) leaving, which would strain the service financially and in manning. The Navy at the time also said it would allow the shipbuilder to install updated electronics onto the carrier. Under the dual-phase approach, Kennedy would have received retroactive modifications for the F-35C after delivery.

But the Navy’s newest aircraft carriers not having the ability to field its fifth-generation fighters angered lawmakers. After Congress mandated that Kennedy have the ability to field the F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter before finishing its PSA, the service in 2020 ditched the dual-phased delivery strategy.

The Navy then projected Kennedy’s delivery for 2024 as a result of the shift to a single-phase approach. The service continued to project a June 2024 delivery through its FY 2023 budget documents.

In this aerial photograph, the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) sits at Pier 3 at Newport News Shipbuilding division. The ship is approximately 76 percent complete and is progressing through final outfitting and testing.

Kennedy is the second aircraft carrier in the Ford Class, the first new class in more than 40 years.

CVN-79 is also the second aircraft carrier to honor President John F. Kennedy for a lifetime of service to the nation. The first USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) aircraft carrier served the fleet for over 50 years before decommissioning in 2007. John F. Kennedy wore our nation’s uniform as a Navy Lieutenant during World War II before serving as the 35th President of the United States from January 1961 to November 1963.

At 1,092 feet in length and 100,000 tons, CVN-79 incorporates more than 23 new technologies, comprising dramatic advances in propulsion, power generation, ordnance handling, and aircraft launch systems. These innovations will support a 33% higher sortie generation rate at significant cost savings when compared to Nimitz-class carriers. The Gerald R. Ford class also offers a considerable reduction—approximately $4 billion per ship—in life cycle operations and support costs compared to the earlier Nimitz class.

The new technology and warfighting capabilities that John F. Kennedy brings to the fleet will transform naval warfare, supporting a more capable and lethal forward-deployed US naval presence. In an emerging era of great power competition, CVN-79 will serve as the most agile and lethal combat platform globally, with improved systems that enhance interoperability among other platforms in the carrier strike group and with the naval forces of regional allies and partners.

Photo credit: Matt Hildreth/HII / Huntington Ingalls Industries

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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