How many years does it take for an aircraft carrier to form combat capability

  The construction of a new aircraft carrier is just the beginning. There are still many equipment and functions that need to be installed, modified, and perfected to truly form a maritime combat capability. Among them, the pre-research and demonstration time of the first-class brand-new aircraft carrier has greatly exceeded its construction period, which is a real “ten years of sharpening a sword.”
  A few days ago, the United States announced that it would build a fourth “Ford”-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and named the new aircraft carrier “Doris Miller”. It is understood that this is the first aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy to be named after an African American. So, how many years does it take for an aircraft carrier from design, research and development, construction to formation of combat effectiveness?
  Pre-research project from technical reserves to
   pre-research project is the development of weapons and equipment planning essential key, especially for strategic weapons, large-scale combat platforms and advanced combat aircraft and other “strategic weapon” of pre-research arguments, it is quite repeatedly, Be cautious.
   As early as during World War II, the U.S. Navy, adhering to the “full deck attack” combat concept, worked hard on the development and positioning of the “independent” class light aircraft carrier. Based on extensively listening to the opinions of frontline commanders, through a series of research demonstrations, Technological innovation and tactical testing finally established the guiding ideology of the multi-carrier fleet “half-deck attack” in the form of combat doctrine. Among them, the formation of “aircraft carrier special mixed brigade” is still in use today.
   Britain’s pre-research on the development of the “Queen Elizabeth” class aircraft carrier is even more troublesome. From the strategic defense assessment after the Labor Party government came to power in 1997 to the official launch of the new aircraft carrier project in 1999, the aircraft carrier construction plan was officially determined in 2005. It lasted 8 years. If you add the previous research and demonstration process for the “Invincible” class light aircraft carrier replacement ship, this time span will be longer. It can be seen that the time for pre-research and demonstration of the new aircraft carrier has greatly exceeded its construction period, which is a real “ten years of sharpening a sword.”
   The end of the project’s pre-research is only to outline the “blueprint” and “outline” of the aircraft carrier on paper. Whether it can be put into construction depends on the support of technical reserves. At this stage, various naval powers have experienced long-term accumulation in aircraft carrier construction and use technology, because it fundamentally determines the aircraft carrier’s construction process and combat effectiveness level.
  Built from the hull into the water to outfitting
   the construction process can be divided into modern ships hull construction, outfitting and painting of three parts. If the hull construction is likened to human bones, and painting is likened to skin, then outfitting is like all kinds of organs and tissues in the human body.
  Whether using the traditional tower construction method (such as the USS “Ford” aircraft carrier) or the huge total section construction method (the Royal Navy “Queen Elizabeth” class aircraft carrier), the hull construction and outfitting of the aircraft carrier are all based on land. At the beginning, first cut the steel plate and lay the keel, and then either assemble the hull modules of different sizes in the dock according to the form of “building blocks” (tower construction method), or according to the “divide first and second The sequence of “combining” is to first complete the construction of each module component in the onshore workshop, and then complete the “splicing” in the dock. This cycle is still very long.
   The completion of the hull construction only provided the aircraft carrier with a “body”, and the onshore outfitting only completed the installation and commissioning of large modules. The launching of the hull, out of the dock, and transposition means the second stage of aircraft carrier construction— -Opening of the launching outfit.
   Launching and undocking of the aircraft carrier is an important milestone, but there is still a long way to go before the formal service and combat capability. Take the USS Ford as an example. In November 2013, it was pulled out of the dock under the towing of a tugboat. At this time, the “Ford” was still a veritable “naked ship”, with only the hull and encapsulated power system. Most of the equipment and weapons related to the combat capability of the aircraft carrier were hoisted from the dock to the ship during the outfitting phase. These include dual-band radars, combat command systems, communication systems, electromagnetic catapults, landing assistance and lighting systems, as well as complex work and living facilities such as interior decoration, fire protection, ventilation, water and electricity, and sewage.
   At the same time, the testing and outfitting of each subsystem of the aircraft carrier are carried out in parallel until the system integration test of the entire ship is completed. In the terminal outfitting, the “Ford” encountered serious construction cost overruns, failed electromagnetic ejection system tests, and serious design and manufacturing defects in the power system. The delivery date was therefore pushed back and forth again and again. It was not until April 2017 that the “Ford” went to the Atlantic Ocean for the first time on its own power for sea trials at the shipyard. It has been nearly 4 years since it sailed out of the dock and began “outfitting”.
  From self-navigation test to ship-to-machine integration
   The completion of the launching outfit means the end of the “static” construction phase of the aircraft carrier at the dock. At this time, the operating state of the aircraft carrier’s equipment is basically stable, with the conditions for autonomous navigation, and it is about to enter the “dynamic” self-navigation trial stage. In this stage, the aircraft carrier will not only complete basic tests such as emergency steering, high-speed rotation, anchor lifting, foam spraying, etc., but also dynamic inspection of the operating conditions of the aircraft carrier’s various subsystems and the overall system of the ship to verify the quality of the aircraft carrier’s construction. And navigation capabilities.
   According to the common practice of the navies of various countries in the world, the naval officers and soldiers receiving aircraft carriers have been on the ship for quite a long time. While deeply involved in the construction work, they have a more in-depth understanding of the hull structure, equipment debugging, operation and use, and common faults. Understand, and thus have the initial independent navigation and maneuverability under the conditions of professional and technical personnel support, which is also the basic prerequisite for the “self-navigation trial” of the aircraft carrier.
   However, to bridge the gap between “movement” and “stillness” requires extremely hard work. The “Ford” aircraft carrier began sea trials in April 2017, and a series of serious problems were exposed during the process. For example, the electromagnetic catapult experienced serious failures every 455 ejections, and the electromagnetic arrest system failed every 20 aircraft that stopped the landing. . These “stubborn illnesses” delayed the official delivery of the “Ford” to the Navy from March 2018 to October 2019, and the ship has not yet been deployed to combat operations.
   So, after the “self-navigation trial” is over, is it a matter of course?
  The answer is “no”. For example, the “Queen Elizabeth” class aircraft carrier, known for its advanced technology, completed the first landing of an F-35B carrier-based aircraft in October 2019. But to this day, the aircraft carrier has not achieved the full number of 36 carrier-based aircraft, let alone the expected goal of “integration of ship and aircraft” and “formation of strike capability.” From self-navigation trials to the integration of ship and aircraft, it is not only an image description of the transition from “walking” to “fighting”, and also the realistic direction of the formation and development of the combat effectiveness of aircraft carriers (including carrier-based aircraft). In order for the aircraft carrier and carrier-based aircraft to truly form combat capabilities, it is necessary not only to pass the test of the basic maritime environment, and to achieve the expected combat continuity while ensuring safe operation, but also to focus on possible combat styles and combat operations in long-term use and training. Opponents and the combat environment are constantly looking for loopholes, innovating tactics, and making up for shortcomings, so as to achieve an overall leap in combat effectiveness of “aircraft carrier + carrier aircraft”.