Without a doubt, the United States spend more on its military than any other country, and it’s not even close. China comes in second in military spending with $145.8 billion while the United States is at $597.5 billion. With that said, there isn’t a lot of room for wasted spending, but there is a large expenditure sitting in the water right now that can’t really be used to its full potential.
The United States Navy should have already debuted the USS Gerald R. Ford, named for the 38th President of the United States. The ship was laid down in 2009 and launched in 2013, but still hasn’t been used for its original purpose. The Pentagon has decided that the ship that is now several years behind schedule that it can’t be used for combat. How much is the boat that can’t even fight costing the United States? Try $13 billion on for size.
A memo was recently released by Defense Department member Michael Gilmore that said the USS Gerald R. Ford was having several problems that included self defense, munitions movement, air traffic control and launching aircraft, saying that “These four systems affect major areas of flight operations. Unless these issues are resolved…they will significantly limit (the ship’s) ability to conduct combat operations.”
The ship was originally expected to join the Naval fleet back in September 2014, and there were additional hopes that September 2016 would finally be the time to get it all right. That hasn’t been the case, though, and it could take several more months or even years before it joins the fleet. It’s going to cost a lot of money to repair all of the problems that the USS Gerald R. Ford has.
In the past four years, the US Navy has been operating 10 carriers, and they are anxiously awaiting the Ford to become number 11. This is especially true for those that have been stationed on the active carriers that have been forced to serve longer tours of duty thanks to the Ford’s delay.
The most optimistic timeline for the Ford says that it will be months before the Ford joins the fleet, but those close to the issue are saying that it will take at least another year. One official said that the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System appears to be working, and that improvements are finally being made.
Former Presidential hopeful and retired veteran John McCain has said that the delay is unacceptable, and that the entire process just displays how much acquisitions need to be reformed within the United States military. McCain cites “poor cost estimates” and “new systems rushed to production” as the biggest problems.
The USS Gerald R. Ford is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are a total of three Ford carriers ordered by the Navy and will cost more than $40 billion. The original cost for the first carrier was supposed to be just $10 billion, but billions have been added as a result of cost overrun. When it is finished, though, the 1,100 foot ship will be the centerpiece of the Naval fleet.
The design of the Ford is the first new one in four decades, and will have fewer men on board with easier access for aircraft to land. That is, if it can ever be finished. The next ship after the Ford (the USS John F. Kennedy) is nearly a quarter of the way done and is expected to launch in the year 2020, they just have to finish this one first.