The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford, the most expensive warship ever built, is finally ready for combat duty. The U.S. Navy quietly approved the ship for initial operations capability during the tail end of 2021, with little to no fanfare—an unusual ending to a ship development process that saw more than a half-decade of terrible publicity. Ford will head out for its first deployment later this year, four years later than originally planned.
Gerald R. Ford is the first of the Ford-class aircraft carriers; the class will eventually replace existing Nimitz-class carriers. As the first class in decades, Ford-class ships will integrate a whole slew of new technologies. Ford was designed with a new radar system, the Dual-Band Radar; new electromagnetically-powered aircraft launch catapults and weapons elevators; new aircraft arresting gear; and more. The result was supposed to be a highly efficient warship capable of more aircraft sorties.