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December 6, 2018

PROCUREMENT: Flawed Bomb Elevators Leave Inhofe Leery of Buying Two Carriers.

Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told reporters in August that the elevators are “our open Achilles Heel.”

The Navy plans to complete installation and testing of the 11 elevators before the Ford completes its post-delivery shakedown phase in July, Captain Danny Hernandez, a Navy spokesman, said in an email. Six will also be certified for use by then, but five won’t be completed until after July, he said. “A dedicated team is engaged on these efforts and will accelerate this certification work and schedule where feasible,” he said.

Huntington spokeswoman Beci Brenton said via email that company officials had a “very productive meeting” with Inhofe that included both the elevators and benefits of a two-carrier contract.

The elevator’s completion “has been delayed due to a number of first-in-class issues associated with the first-time installation, integration and test of this new technology,” she said. “However, we are making substantial substantial progress in resolving the remaining technical challenges.”

“Mere” elevators seem like a simple thing, but they really aren’t. The big selling point of the Ford-class ships is their ability to generate higher sortie rates, thus sustaining higher optempos. A big part of that equation is the electronic launch system replacing the traditional steam catapults. The other major part is the high-capacity/high-speed weapons elevators.

They’ll get the kinks worked out, but it’s going to take time and money — and some understandable aggravation on the part of lawmakers and taxpayers.