Interesting artist rendition of the new class of US aircraft carrier on the Navy News this morning. Those of you who are familiar with carrier design will recognize most of the changes, and for those of you who do NOT, that’s what the Pinch is here for!
Newport News, Va. (June 30, 2006) – Artist Rendering – A conceptual rendering of CVN 78, the first of a new generation carrier design, CVN 21, for the US Navy, underway at Northrop Grumman Newport News. Construction is slated to begin in 2007. U.S. Navy Illustration courtesy Northrop Grumman Newport News Shipbuilding (RELEASED)
The link to the Navy high-res version is here. There are some significant differences and improvements to the design when compared to the existing fleet of carriers, and to save bandwidth here on Murdoc, I’ll discuss some of these changes with some zoom-ins of the particular changes over on the Instapinch.
In a nutshelll, though, we need a new carrier because the capabilities and requirements of the 21st century airwing has outgrown the capabilities of the current NIMITZ design to effectively support it. Oh, we’ve upgraded the carriers as much as we can through Service Life Extension Programs (SLEP) and major overhauls (the NIMITZ class carriers are starting to reach their 25-year nuclear-fuel refueling limits, with NIMITZ and EISENHOWER completed and now VINSON in the drydock – these are 3+year evolutions), but there is only so much you can do when constrained by the physical design of a ship.
For example, the F-35, the Joint Strike Fighter, will have something called the Autonomic Logistics System (ALS) built into it where the pilot, upon returning from a mission, can send a burst data-link transmission of aircraft health data back to the ship. This will provide the maintenance wrench turners and planners a huge leg-up on turnaround maintenance that may be needed for the aircraft, having parts and maintenance ready to go as soon as the aircraft lands. However, you cannot just simply send this data-link transmission to the ship when you consider the myriad other data-link and electronic transmissions and requirements that the ship currently needs, and you cannot just simply hang new data-link receivers all over the boat. So, building this capability into a new design builds on and sets the table for future aircraft capabilities.
Again, more will be over on the Instapinch later today – if I can drag myself out of the pool on this beautiful pre-July 4th Saturday holiday weekend!