carriers

The X-47B drone plugs into an aerial refueling tanker for the first time.

UPDATED Thursday with test results NATIONAL HARBOR, MD: “Tomorrow, actually, the weather looks good,” said Capt. Beau Duarte, the Navy’s head of carrier-launched drone programs — at least, he added cautiously, as of “right now.” If the weather holds, the Navy’s experimental X-47B drone will refuel in mid-air — the first time an unmanned aircraft has… Keep reading →

Tomahawk cruise missile launch against the Khorasan group in Syria

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD: Amidst unabated budget gloom, Navy and Marine leaders aren’t looking for salvation in big new programs. They’re “repurposing and reusing existing capabilities” to get the maximum out of existing hardware for minimum cost. It’s a vision of the future in which a junior Marine Corps officer might call for fire support from a… Keep reading →

CSBA graphic

WASHINGTON: The seas are shrinking. As missiles grow longer-ranged and more precise, as sensors grow ever sharper, there are ever fewer places for a ship to hide. “A ship’s a fool to fight a fort,” goes an old naval adage, because a land base can carry more ammunition and armor than anything that floats. Admirals… Keep reading →

The new carrier USS Ford is afloat but still unfinished.

NAVY YARD: At almost $13 billion, the cutting-edge aircraft carrier USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) has become a byword for military overruns. With the Ford‘s cost now stable and the costs of the second ship, Kennedy, coming down, however, the Navy seems convinced it’s got the money problem under control. Now they can talk about the… Keep reading →

An Ohio-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine

CAPITOL HILL: It’s a problem the US Navy wants to have, but it’s still a problem. If the service gets enough money both to build its top priority, the Ohio Replacement Program nuclear missile submarine, and to keep producing its vaunted Virginia-class attack subs, then so much new work will be hitting the shipyards so rapidly that they’ll be… Keep reading →

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WASHINGTON: The Republican congressman who oversees the Navy actually likes Barack Obama’s 2016 defense budget — except for one small thing: It isn’t really a budget. “It would be almost a misnomer to call this a budget. It’s [just] numbers,” Rep. Randy Forbes told me this morning, in advance of tomorrow’s budget hearing. “If you… Keep reading →

Bold Alligator

CRYSTAL CITY: Nudge nudge, wink wink, we love V-22s, Navy officials said here today. We couldn’t possibly confirm the Breaking Defense report that the service’s 2016 budget request buys V-22 Ospreys for the Carrier Onboard Delivery mission, they said, but if hypothetically the Navy happened to choose the V-22 to shuttle people and supplies to… Keep reading →

Expanding the Reach of the Carrier Strike Group

F-35C on approach to USS Nimitz

Naval Air Station Fallon trains the naval air wing for aircraft carriers; Rear Adm. Mike Manazir, director of Navy Air Warfare, works to improve its capabilities. Manazir is a battle-hardened carrier admiral. By chance our interview with the admiral occurred shortly after the successful initial tests of the F-35C aboard the USS Nimitz. He focused on the… Keep reading →

The $13 billion supercarrier USS Ford under construction in Newport News, Va.

WASHINGTON: Navy readiness won’t fully recover from the second-order effects of the 2013 sequester for another year, the Chief of Naval Operations said this morning — and if the Budget Control Act cuts (known as sequestration) return in full force for fiscal year 2016, the nation might lose two of its five remaining major shipyards.… Keep reading →

A Navy F-35C conducts its first-ever arrested landing aboard the carrier USS Nimitz

ABOARD USS NIMITZ: The first F-35C seemed to float through the air toward the slowly pitching deck of the USS Nimitz, looking as if it was hanging by a wire and heading implacably to the ship’s arresting wires. The weather was gorgeous, with the massive carrier sailing some 40 miles off the San Diego coast through… Keep reading →

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