When the USS Ford was being built, we all assumed, quite logically, that the ship would be able to operate the F-35 which had been around for twenty years or so, in various stages of development. The timing was looking about right – the carrier and the F-35C would both be ready about the same time. Well, in yet another disappointment for the Ford, it turns out that the carrier wasn’t actually built to operate F-35s. No, this is not an April Fools post or some ComNavOps comedy piece. This is real. The Navy’s newest carrier can’t operate the F-35.
As it turns out, most of the Navy’s carriers and amphibious ships (LHA/LHD) can’t operate the F-35.
Yes, the F-35C can take off and land on the carriers but the ships lack the communications, data integration, and maintenance facilities to fully utilize the supposed capabilities of the F-35 – those much hyped surveillance capabilities. Without the proper comms and data handling facilities on the carriers, the F-35 can collect data but can’t effectively relay it to the carrier and allow the carrier to make use of it.