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Hamas attack: What is Gerald Ford, the world’s largest aircraft carrier, mobilized off the coast of Israel?

It’s a true maritime giant: the US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford will be deployed off the coast of Israel, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Sunday after the Hamas offensive began Saturday morning.

This aircraft carrier is the newest and most advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the US Navy. On board there will be about 4,500 soldiers (with 4,297 seats) and a deck of combat aircraft, accompanied by a cruiser and four destroyers to prepare for all contingencies, Lloyd Austin emphasizes in a press release. “We have also taken steps to increase USAF F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 fighter squadrons in the region,” he adds.

The largest warship

USS Gerald R. Ford is the largest warship deployed in the world since its commissioning in October 2022. It required more than 10 years of work: announced in 2007 by the American government, it was completed in 2017 at a total cost of $13 billion (€12.3 billion). This is the first of a series of ships built to replace the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.

Measuring 337 m long, 78 m wide and weighing 100,000 tons, it is equipped with two nuclear reactors that produce two and a half times more electricity than their predecessors on US Navy aircraft. The flight deck area, which could be increased, reached 20,000 m².

The ejection of aircraft is carried out using an innovative process – electromagnetic catapults, whereas until now aircraft carriers used steam catapults, as in the case of the Charles de Gaulle. This new process allows for a 25% increase in the maximum number of aircraft takeoffs per day compared to Nimitz aircraft carriers, while requiring 25% less crew. This amounts to up to 160 possible daily departures, of which 220 in the event of a crisis.

“Stronger, faster”

“Collectively, we are 200% stronger than the Nimitz class.” We’re stronger, faster, and able to operate much more quickly than with the Nimitz,” Commander James Fish, the ship’s weapons officer on board, explained in October 2022.

In terms of weapons, the USS Gerald R. Ford can counter directed energy weapons, namely laser weapons, microwave weapons, and magnetic radiation. It can carry up to 90 aircraft and helicopters, but is also equipped with surface-to-air missiles: two launchers for RIM-116 RAM missiles and two launchers for RIM-162 ESSM, says seaforces.org. This arsenal is complemented by other weapons systems: three Phalanx CIWS close-in combat systems and four 25 mm Mk 38 machine gun systems.

In the Mediterranean from May

This aircraft carrier was named after former US President Gerald Ford, who served from 1974 to 1977. Gerald Ford died on December 26, 2006, and at his funeral in January 2007, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld elaborated on what the former news president had said shortly before his death: “While visiting President Ford, I brought him a cap with the USS Gerald crest on it.” R. Ford above. “It would be fitting for the name of Gerald R. Ford to patrol the high seas for decades, protecting the country he loved so much.”

According to information provided by the US Embassy in Turkey, the plane’s last known location was in Antalya on August 25, where it was making a routine stop planned by the Army.

According to the US Navy, the carrier strike group was in the Ionian Sea, south of the Adriatic, in early October. It previously made stops in Oslo (Norway), Split (Croatia) and Piraeus (Greece) as part of its deployment to Neptune Strike, a naval defense exercise organized by NATO.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, his mission will be to “strengthen the Department of Defense’s position in the region to support regional deterrence efforts,” Lloyd Austin said.


Source: Le Parisien

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