An aircraft carrier is a vital asset to any naval force as it brings aircraft to conflict zones in an age where air command is crucial to all combat operations. Through new and advanced technology, warfare is set to enter a new phase with the introduction of a new type of aircraft carrier—The Gerald R. Ford class of super-carriers—which is currently being built to replace some of the existing Nimitz carriers for the US navy. Though similar to existing carriers, these super-carriers will make use of advanced technologies such as the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (which will replace earlier existing steam mechanisms), automation, and stealth features—reducing not only the number of crew required on board but also operating costs.
The Gerald R. Ford class of super-carriers will also have significant changes to its flight deck – a standout feature from the early Nimitz carriers. These changes will improve aircraft handling, storage, and flow. The ship will also be equipped with two newly-designed reactors and has 250 percent more electrical capacity than previous carriers. A full-scale three-dimensional product model was used to design and plan the construction of the Ford-class of aircraft carriers—allowing visual integration in design, engineering, planning and construction.
The Ford class of super-carriers have been created to sustain 160 sorties per day for more than 30 days, with a surge capability of 270 sorties/day – a much larger number than that of the earlier Nimitz carriers. Though this seems somewhat far-fetched at present, any increase in the number of sorties is an achievement in itself.
Another addition to the Gerald R. Ford-class is an “integrated search and tracking radar system”. Additionally, the aircrafts carrier’s island— command center for flight-deck operations— can be kept smaller by replacing six to ten radar antennas with a single six-faced radar. It also incorporates the latest technology in flat panel array radar systems and dual-band radar.
The Gerald R. Ford class of super-carriers is just one among the many such examples to showcase how technology has played a crucial part in this industry—changing the nature of both warfare and combat operations. Though it is evident that technology will continue to play a greater role within modern warfare, it remains to be seen whether it can also limit the number of armed conflicts around the world.
How do you see the role of technology within modern warfare and combat operations? Will the new super-carriers be sustainable given the costs involved? And will they help mitigate conflicts in various parts of the globe? Please leave your comments in the section below.