Gene Taylor discussed EMALS last March in a hearing related to the proposed FY2009 budget.
“Another very risky program is the new aircraft carrier. Not that the Navy and Newport News Shipyard don’t know how to build aircraft carriers, they do. However, one of the major new technologies, the electro-magnetic launch system, or EMALS, has not even been tested in a shipboard configuration and the ship is already under construction. Just this last week the Navy requested an additional $40 million dollars for continued development of EMALS because, and I quote, ‘the contractor underestimated design and production cost.’ The cynic in me would say the contractor purposefully low-balled the bid to get the contract knowing full well the Navy would be forced to pay whatever the true costs of the system turned out to be. Perhaps we should have built another Nimitz class carrier until the research and design for EMALS was complete.”He isn't going to be happy when he hears the latest from Newport News. EMALS is a failure, and nobody is really sure what to do. Build another Nimitz? Redesign the Ford class for steam? Throw even more money at the problem and hope they can fix it?
It is very easy for the new administration to not build a new class of super aircraft carriers when a key component, one the platform depends on, simply doesn't work.
Shipbuilding is still an interesting conversation. We have a LCS program of only 2 ships, with no more under contract. We have a DDG-1000 program of 2 ships, the third only partially funded. There is no clear picture for major surface combatants yet. The Navy tried to close the LPD-17 line last year, one of the only surface vessel programs actually working right now not named the T-AKE. Now we are hearing the Ford class CVN program is stuck between a rock and hard place, and it is going to take some time to figure out where to go with this problem.
Like I've been saying, FY 2010 is going to be a wild ride.