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Ford Aircraft Carriers Not Ready For F 35s

WASHINGTON: The Navy is upgrading one of its oldest aircraft carriers to be the first to fly the service’s newest plane, the F-35C, giving it a capability the service’s brand-new $13 billion carrier, the delayed and trouble-prone USS Gerald R. Ford, won’t have for years once it deploys.

Navy officials say the Ford and its follow-on carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy, are not being built to carry F-35s, and will have to undergo upgrades years after they’ve deployed. The plan is in keeping with a complicated maintenance and upgrade schedule the service has devised to marry ships with the Joint Strike Fighter as both become available.

The plane couldn’t have been included in the designs for the first two of four planned Ford carriers, one Navy official told me, because the F-35C’s final form was still a work in progress when the final design for the Fords was wrapping up.

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