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CV(X) Future Sea-Based Tactical Aviation Platform - History

The Joint Requirements Oversight Council approved a mission needs statement (MNS) for a New Tactical Aviation Sea-Based Platform for the 21st Century, the CV(X), in March 1996. Among the potential alternatives that could compete with CV(X) in meeting the operational requirements of the MNS were the Mobile Offshore Base (MOB) and the Arsenal Ship, as well as, land-based aircraft.

The formal design process for CVX began in 1996. The project received $45.7 million in fiscal year 1998 and $190.2 million is being requested for fiscal year 1999. One of the principal objectives of the CVX project is to reduce life-cycle costs by 20 percent. The Navy wants to begin building the first CVX-78 class carrier in fiscal year 2006 and commission it in 2013.

The Fy1997 budget request included $12.7 million in PE 63512N for carrier systems development, including $8.3 million for development and demonstration of technologies that may be used in the future aircraft carrier (CVX-78) now planned to begin construction contract award in fiscal year 2006. To accelerate development and demonstration of technologies for the CVX-78 and to establish a more reasonable ramp to ship design, component development, and the production decision for the CVX-78, the House bill would authorize an increase of $23.0 million to the budget request in PE 63512N. The House report (H. Rept. 104-563) indicated these funds would be used for development of technologies for advanced aircraft launch systems, advanced armor concepts, integrated topside design, initial computing plant systems architecture analysis, and development of advanced modeling and simulation. The Senate amendment would authorize an increase of $52.0 million above the budget request in PE 63512N for aircraft carrier research and development. The Senate receded.

In support of the future aircraft carrier program, PMS 378 tasked the Design Support Department's Naval Architecture group (241) to develop carrier feasibility level ships designs. These designs will be used for analysis of alternatives (AoA) studies, being directed by the Center of Naval Analysis, which are required to transition a new ship program to Milestone I (MS I) before the Navy can officially begin procurement. The AoA effort consists of three parts, each lasting one year. Part 1 (FY 97) looked at ship impacts that addressed the overall size and configuration of the carrier. Part 2 (FY 98) concentrated on ship studies reflecting propulsion plant choice, impacts of different passive protection systems, and the influence of reduced signature technologies. Part 3 (FY 99) concentrated on the need for a new hullform or the further evolution of the current Nimitz Class hullform, to meet the anticipated needs of the future carriers.

In January 1997 the Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC) was tasked by the Honorable John Douglass, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition [ASN (RD&A)], to conduct a study of science and technology (S&T) opportunities that might beneficially impact the engineering and operational flexibility of CVX as well as other new classes of Navy ships. Sponsors of the NRAC study on CVX flexibility were RADM Michael T. Coyle, Deputy Commander for Engineering, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) and RADM Dennis V. McGinn, Director, Air Warfare Division (N88), Office of Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV). In order to credibly address the broad range of issues associated with CVX flexibility, a panel of seven NRAC members was augmented with experts from industry and government as well as two former Navy flag officers with extensive carrier operations experience.

On October 9, 1998 the DoD Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approved the Navy's request that the CVX class carrier be large deck and nuclear powered with a new propulsion plant and electrical power system that will use an evolutionary approach beginning with CVX-1. The DAB review considered various propulsion alternatives and associated developmental costs and operational and technical risks, together with the proven merits of nuclear propulsion. The merits were articulated by the unified commanders and Joint Chiefs of Staff. This approach will improve affordability, incorporate needed warfighting improvements, and provide for future flexibility, while providing for backfit to NIMITZ class ships. In their review, the DAB considered the Navy's request to proceed with the CVX program based on a ship class with a large deck (75-plane airwing capacity), as well as a new design nuclear propulsion plant and electrical power system.

The CVN-77 was to serve as the transition ship from the Nimitz-class of nuclear aircraft carriers to the next-generation CV(X) aircraft carrier. In accordance with Congress' actions in 1997, In May 1998 the House National Security committee placed a priority on increasing research and development for the CVN-77. Therefore, the committee recommended $38.5 million (matching the President's request) for development of CVN-77, $190 million (matching the President's request) for development of CV(X), and a provision that would make $50 million of funds for development of CV(X) technologies available for development of technologies for insertion in CVN-77. In addition, the committee recommends $124.5 million (matching the President's request) for advance procurement of CVN-77.

The Navy's FY99 plan for CV(X) included $40 million in RDT&E funding for feasibility and trade studies supporting CV(X) design and a Milestone I decision. The FY 1999 request for CV(X) also included $149.5 million in RDT&E funding for the development of critical technologies. These R&D efforts included: advanced technology catapult, advanced propulsion concepts, enhanced survivability features, integrated information management technologies, automation for reduced manning, and computer aided design tools. These critical technologies were started in FY99 to ensure that CV(X) could reduce the total cost of ownership of US Navy aircraft carriers and meet their required Initial Operational Capability date of 2013, when the first CV(X) was slated to relieve the USS Enterprise (CVN 65).



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