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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Navy Ford (CVN-78) Class Aircraft Carrier Program: Background and Issues for Congress



Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

CVN-78, CVN-79, and CVN-80 are the first three ships in the Navy’s new Gerald R. Ford (CVN- 78) class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (CVNs).

CVN-78 was procured in FY2008. The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $12,323.2 million (i.e., about $12.3 billion) in then-year dollars. The ship received advance procurement funding in FY2001-FY2007 and was fully funded in FY2008- FY2011 using congressionally authorized four-year incremental funding. The Navy did not request any procurement funding for the ship in FY2012, and is not requesting any procurement funding for the ship in FY2013. The Navy plans to request $449 million in procurement funding in FY2014 and $362 million in procurement funding in FY2015 for the ship to cover $811 million in cost growth on the ship.

CVN-79 is scheduled to be procured in FY2013. The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget estimates CVN-79’s procurement cost at $11,411.0 million (i.e., about $11.4 billion) in then-year dollars, and requests $608.2 million in procurement funding for the ship. The ship received advance procurement funding in FY2007-FY2012, and the Navy wants to fully fund the ship in FY2013- FY2018 using six-year incremental funding. Current law authorizes the use of five-year incremental funding for procuring CVN-79 and CVN-80; the Navy is requesting Congress to amend current law to authorize the use of six-year incremental funding for procuring CVN-79 and CVN-80. The FY2013 budget proposes to lengthen the construction period for the ship by two years, so that the ship is delivered in September 2022, rather than in September 2020, as projected under the FY2012 budget. Although the ship is being procured in FY2013, the new delivery date of September 2022 is what in the past might have been expected for a carrier procured in FY2015.

CVN-80 is scheduled to be procured in FY2018. The Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget estimates the ship’s procurement cost at $13,874.2 million (i.e., about $13.9 billion) in then-year dollars. Under the Navy’s proposed FY2013 budget, the ship is to receive advance procurement funding in FY2016-FY2017 and be fully funded in FY2018-FY2023 using six-year incremental funding. The FY2013 budget proposes to lengthen the construction period for the ship by two years, so that the ship is delivered in 2027, rather than in 2025, as projected under the FY2012 budget. Although the ship is being procured in FY2018, the new delivery date of 2027 is what in the past might have been expected for a carrier procured in FY2020.

The Navy states that lengthening the construction periods of CVNs 79 and 80 by two years will not temporarily reduce the carrier force to less than 11 ships, but will instead eliminate some instances of when the carrier force would have temporarily numbered 12 ships.

Oversight issues for Congress for the CVN-78 program include the following: cost growth in the program; where the estimated procurement costs of CVNs 78, 79, and 80 now stand in relation to the legislated procurement cost caps for the ships, and whether the cost caps should be amended; whether to approve the Navy’s request for using six-year incremental funding to procure CVN-79 and CVN-80; whether to procure CVN-79 and CVN-80 together in a two-ship block buy; and CVN-78 program issues that were raised in a December 2011 report from the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).



Date of Report: December 10, 2012
Number of Pages: 40
Order Number: RS20643
Price: $29.95

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