February 5, 2008

Northrop Grumman Newport News- More on the Gerald R Ford Class

The Gerald R Ford class is something I have been looking into for a while now. Northrop Grumman Newport News will begin construction of the new super-carrier within the next 5 years. Designed to replace the aging nuclear aircraft carriers like the USS Enterprise, the Gerald R Ford class is being designed with the ability to facilitate technology extending through to 2050 if necessary.

Known armaments include your staples for aircraft carriers: the Gerald R Ford Class is slated to have 3-4 CIWS Phalanx mounts as well as missle defenses. Because technology during the lifespan of the carriers has 50 years to run it's course, new technologies in the future will be mountable into positions on the carrier. Currently the carrier is being designed to facilitate new technologies. Adding technologies such as the experimental railgun probably would not be out of the question for future plans.

Launch and Recovery
The Gerald R Ford class (herein abbreviated GRF) will feature new arresting gear technology for more reliable and efficient recovery of aircraft. In the past there were problems with arresting gear technology being unreliable sometimes, such as on the Nimitz Class aircraft carriers. The GRF class will also feature brand new technology to launch planes into the sky: electromagnetic catapults. These new catapults should allow for easier control on the amount of force needed to launch an aircraft: and more importantly calculate how much force is needed (by computer) to launch a payload off the decks. What's great is there is a large probability that everything will be controlled by computers in the aircraft carrier. With unrelated releases such as the Future Warrior concept, it is not out of the question that aircraft will be able to connect (via sattelite?) to the carrier, especially UAVs.

All of these new technologies will cost less to maintain the ship. For the future, the GRF class IS the platform to introduce UAVs into service as well as a platform for the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) to launch operations from. The age of the computer is here and real: with aircraft linked to the carrier the carrier will be able to launch more sortees with room to integrate UAVS into the future.

I'll be heading to Penn State University Park's career fair on February 19th to talk with the Northrop Grumman representative there about a possible internship this summer, hopefully in Newport News, VA. My ultimate goal is a career with the company, and hopefully I can work with them in the future.

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