The one-of-a-kind control system is just one of many state-of-the-art upgrades aboard the $13 billion USS Gerald Ford that will be commissioned into active duty on July 22 after eight years of construction, development and testing.
As the first new carrier design in 40 years, the 1,100-foot Ford incorporates advanced technology and operational systems that will allow aircraft take off and land more quickly, a smaller crew and improved survivability against projected threats, according to the Navy.
"We've worked a great deal to automize a lot of what we do," [the ship's executive officer] said, highlighting that the Ford maintains a crew of 2,600 sailors -- 600 fewer than its predecessors in the Nimitz-class.
State-of-the-art electromagnetic catapults and advanced arresting gear have been coupled with new structural designs -- including a larger flight deck to improve aircraft maneuverability and a repositioned "island" (the tower where the captain sits) for better visibility.
These systems are expected to streamline flight operations and allow the Ford to launch 33% more aircraft than older carriers in the fleet -- meaning it will be able to pack a bigger punch.