The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group, led by the first-in-class US Navy supercarrier, has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean, bringing significant firepower and a powerful presence to the area grappling with instability and tragedy. The group, which includes nearly two dozen new technologies, was announced by US officials as a sign of US support for Israel and a deterrent.
The Ford fleet includes Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers like the USS Normandy and Arleigh-Burke-class guided-missile destroyers like the USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt.
The combined firepower of these vessels adds up, sending a clear and intimidating message amid a serious international crisis. A senior US defense official stated that the force posture sent a warning to any entities that would consider taking advantage of the conflict and war to escalate violence. Carrier strike groups are self-contained units that can strike targets 1,000 miles away, defend against air, missile, and submarine attack, and maintain maritime security over hundreds of square miles. The USS Gerald R. Ford was commissioned over five years ago and was in development for over a decade.
The US Central Command has announced the launch of the Ford, a new aircraft carrier that offers significant improvements over previous Nimitz-class carriers. The carrier boasts faster aircraft sorties and a smaller crew, thanks to its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear. This allows fixed-wing aircraft to launch and recover more smoothly and effectively. The carrier is operating with eight squadrons of attack and support aircraft, including Carrier Airwing 8, which is responsible for defense and sustained air operations. The dual-band radar, capable of operating two frequency ranges, is a major boon for operations and logistics.
The carrier’s advanced weapons elevators allow for quicker transportation of larger and more complex munitions and systems to the flight deck. The carrier strike group, consisting of the USS Normandy, USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt, is also key to the carrier’s combat power.
The destroyers can carry various top air-defense-interceptor missiles, including the Standard Missile 6, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and the medium-range Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile.
The DDGs and CG can carry Tomahawk cruise missiles with a substantial range, allowing the strike group to hit land-based targets of Israeli adversaries beyond their anti-ship weapons range. The Pentagon has stated that the carrier strike group is moved to strengthen Department of Defense posture in the region and deter any actor seeking to escalate the situation or widen the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
A British Royal Navy force is being sent into the eastern Mediterranean, and the US is considering the possibility of tasking a second aircraft carrier to the area. US officials have said that there have been conversations about sending USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to the eastern Mediterranean, but it remains unclear if Eisenhower would replace the Ford or join its group. If the Eisenhower does join the Ford, it will be the first time two carriers have been deployed in the area since the March 2020 Camp Taji incident. The US Department of Defense declined to comment on whether there were conversations on tasking the Eisenhower with a mission outside its original deployment plans.
US Navy aircraft carriers are frequently utilized as power-projection tools, supporting flags, and acting as credible deterrents in emergencies. The introduction of the Ford gave the Navy greater capacity, allowing it to better meet demands from military leaders and combatant commanders. The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group was deployed in response to surprise terror attacks by Hamas, which killed over 1,200 civilians and foreign nationals and injured thousands more.