Gerald R. Ford class

Gerald R. Ford (CVN-21 class) is the newest american class of nuclear-powered suppercarriers which will eventually replace all Nimitz carriers from US Navy's fleet.

Author: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni
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Even though the hull of Gerald R. Ford class is similar with that of the previous Nimitz class, this new generation of aircraft carriers comes with many improvements including stealth features in order to reduce radar cross-section.

Flight deck

The major visible difference between the new and older generation of american supercarriers is the island.

On Gerald Ford, the superstructure is smaller and positioned more towards the aft than the island on Nimitz.

Further improvements have been made regarding the flight deck which resulted in better use of space and a better flow of deck operations. This ultimately led to an increased sortie rate.

Carrier air wing

Ford class can carry up to 90 aircrafts of diffent types, including Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and UCAVs like the Northrop Grumman X-47B.

Regarding the fighter aircrafts, the combat force will consists of multirole fighters like the new stealth 5th generation F-35C and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Carrier wing is completed by Grumman C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft, E-2 Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft and by Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)

Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier is equiped with the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System capable of launching both heavier and lighter aircrafts than the steam-powered catapults used on Nimitz class aircraft carriers.

Compared to steam catapults, EMALS is a superior launching system from all points of view. It will cost less and it will be cheaper to maintain. Also it will be smaller and lighter, but at the same time, more powerful.

The main advantage over the steam-powered launching systems is that the launching with the new electromagnetic system is smoother, thus reducing the stress on the airframes.

Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) landing system

Not only the launching system have been improved, but also the aresting system. Like the EMALS, the new Advanced Arresting Gear is also an electromagnetic-based system.

The arresting system installed on Nimitz class aircraft carriers is based on hydraulic systems. The new AAG has the advantage of being capable to capture UAVs.


Gerald R. Ford-class carrier is powered by two A1B nuclear reactors while oldest Nimitz carriers are powered by two A4W reactors.

It is estimated that each A1B reactor will provide 700 MW with 25% more power than A4W reactors who provide only 550 MW.

Also, the electrical capacity of Gerald R. Ford's reactors is 2.5 times bigger than electrical capacity of Nimitz's reactors.


Gerald R. Ford, is equiped with an AESA radar system manufactured by Raytheon.

This dual-band radar consists from one X band AN/SPY-3 radar and one S band Volume Search Radar.


The weapons installed on board consists of two RIM-162 ESSM air defence missile systems, two RIM-116 RAM close-in weapons systems against antiship cruise missiles, three Phalanx CIWS against anti-ship missiles and four M2 Browning .50 Caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns.

Posted by: Andrei Dcs
Gerald R. Ford class - General Data and Specifications:
Type Aircraft carrier
Place of Origin United States of America
Service Period and Status 2017–present
Manufacturer and Builders Newport News Shipbuilding
Program & Unit Cost Program cost:
US$37.30 billion (FY2018)

Unit cost:
US$12.998 billion (FY2018)
Preceded by Nimitz class
Mass / Weight About 100,000 long tons / 100,000 tonnes displacement (full load)
Length 1,106 ft / 337 m
Width 256 ft / 78 m (flight deck)
134 ft / 41 m (waterline)
Height 250 feet / 76 m
Draft 39 ft / 12 m
crew Complement:
508 officers
3,789 enlisted

2,600 approx.
Speed In excess of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Operational Range Unlimited
Armament Surface-to-air missiles:
2 × RIM-162 ESSM launchers
2 × RIM-116 RAM

3 × Phalanx CIWS
4 × M2 .50 Cal. (12.7 mm) machine guns
Decks 25
Installed Power Two A1B nuclear reactors
Propulsion Four shafts
Aircraft Carried 75+
Avioation Facilities 1,092 ft × 256 ft (333 m × 78 m) flight deck
Service Life 50 years