Future USS John F. Kennedy to Be Installed with Data System from USS Enterprise

The U.S. Navy’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport Detachment San Diego’s Fleet Test and Evaluation Center (FTEC) supplied the aircraft carrier future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) with a repurposed AN/USQ-167 Common Data Link System (CDLS) that was salvaged from the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

The carrier-based CDLS provides an Undersea Warfare (USW) capability that allows aircraft carriers to receive, process, and evaluate sonobuoy data from multiple land-based and shipboard-based USW aircraft.

Dave McKae, FTEC Engineering Technician, NUWC Division, Keyport Detachment San Diego, said the CDLS was refurbished by Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Pacific and installed at San Diego’s FTEC. Once it was installed at FTEC, a technical refresh was conducted to enable the system to link up with multiple USW aircraft while in flight. The system was then used to conduct testing that will help bring the next generation data link into fleet operation.

“Operational testing and evaluation was performed at the site, utilizing multiple aircraft from Naval Air Station North Island,” said McKae. “Live testing, consisting of both on-deck and in-flight operations, were successfully conducted, proving the next generation common data link system increased capabilities were operationally sound. This proven upgrade is now slated to be retrofitted on all US Aircraft Carriers.”

NUWC Keyport’s role as the Aircraft Carrier Tactical Support System (CV-TSC) In Service Engineering Agent (ISEA) enables Detachment San Diego to support MLCS development. The use of Enterprise’s CDLS by FTEC was arranged by an agreement between multiple commands including Naval Air Forces and Naval Sea Systems Command. Part of the agreement specified the unit would be returned to active service in the fleet if it was needed after being upgraded.

FTEC San Diego was the ideal site due to its proximity to NIWC Pacific and its connections to local anti-submarine squadrons on NAS North Island.

The CDLS unit would have been disposed of if it had not been repurposed for testing. FTEC’s reuse of it brought multiple benefits to the Navy, including speedier development of the next generation system and a savings of $1.8M by not purchasing a brand new unit. The system is scheduled to be installed on future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) in 2021.

“This is a great example of collaboration between Naval Warfare Centers in both supporting test and evaluation, and Fleet requirements as part of the overall Navy’s mission and readiness,” said Jack Smith, Division Head, NUWC Division, Keyport Detachment San Diego.

The future USS John F. Kennedy, now designated Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), is the second aircraft carrier of the Gerald R. Ford-class, slated to replace USS Nimitz (CVN 68) when that ship is decommissioned.

The aircraft carrier was launched into the James River for the first time by Huntington Ingalls Industries’ (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division on Dec. 16 last year. The milestone came just nine days after the christening of the vessel.

CVN 79 is the second carrier to honor President John F. Kennedy for a lifetime of service to the nation. The president wore the uniform of our nation as a Navy lieutenant during World War II and served as the 35th President of the United States, from January 1961 to November 1963.

At 1,092 feet in length and 100,000 tons, CVN 79 incorporates advances in technology, such as a new propulsion system, electric plant, Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), machinery control, radars, and integrated warfare systems. These innovations will support a 33% higher sortie generation rate at significant cost savings when compared to Nimitz-class carriers. The Gerald R. Ford-class also offers a significant reduction—approximately $4 billion per ship—in life cycle operations and support costs compared to the earlier Nimitz class.

Kennedy is scheduled for delivery to the Navy in 2022.

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