The next generation aircraft carrier has its share of detractors, but others believe the CVN-78 class will provide more bang for the buck than its predecessors.
Debates about aircraft carrier construction programs are often colored more by myths and half-truths than solid understanding of the issues at hand. Several misunderstandings have affected the debate over the CVN-21 program even as the first of the class-the Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)-is funded in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget. (Truth in packaging: I work for Northrop Grumman, whose Newport News sector will be building CVN-78.)
Four key, interconnected misperceptions are at play:
* Some, arguing that the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is the most powerful warship sailing the oceans today, incorrectly conclude that no need exists to pursue a new aircraft carrier.
* To reinforce the supposed folly of the new program, they falsely assert that continuing with the Nimitz class is a less expensive option.
* CVN-78 research and development costs are misstated, implying that these are out of line with requirements.