Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding has secured a contract to build the third and fourth Ford-class aircraft carriers for a deal potentially worth US$26 Billion. The U.S. Navy has come to agreement with Huntington Ingalls Industries for the next two Ford-class aircraft carriers, the company said on Wednesday. The vessels will be the third and fourth Ford-class carriers in the Navy’s fleet and are expected to come in at a cost of roughly $26 billion, based on the first vessels in the class, though HII expects the new deal to bring down the per-ship cost. Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Mark Warner, D-Va., confirmed the award on Monday for the two carriers, which the two U.S. senators said would also help solidify the shipbuilding industry in Newport News, Va., where both vessels are expected to be produced.
The block-buying process, in the case of the two aircraft carriers, is expected to save the Navy $4 billion. The first Ford-class aircraft carrier delivered to the US (United States) Navy was the Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), built at the cost of $13 billion and commissioned in July 2017. Last year, the Navy asked the company for detailed pricing on the cost of two aircraft carriers since it expected there was potential to save as much as $2.5 billion in the deal. The US Department of Defense sent a certification letter to Congress that outlines the contracting strategy and how much time and money it would allow the Navy to save on hulls CVN-80 and CVN-81 on Monday. A congressional staffer told USNI News that the combined contracting could save the Navy about $4 billion, well above the original estimates. With that letter sent, the Navy could award the contract to the company by the end of January.
The Ford-class carriers are expected to replace the Nimitz-class used by the U.S. Navy for over 40 years. One, the USS Gerald R. Ford, has been in active service since 2017. The second, the USS John F. Kennedy, is expected to be commissioned in 2024. The Ford-class carriers are equipped with electromagnetic-powered aircraft launch system (EMALS). They are also provided with a nuclear power plant, a redesigned island, electromagnetic catapults, improved weapons movement and enhanced flight deck capable of increased aircraft sortie rates. The battleships are expected to replace Nimitz-class carriers used by the US Navy for more than 40 years.