The newest and most expensive aircraft carrier ever built entered the U.S. Navy fleet Saturday, but almost three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over its estimated budget.
With Saturday's commissioning, the carrier will go back into testing and training, and isn't expected to be fully operational until 2020 at the earliest. The ship's catapult has yet to launch an actual aircraft at sea and the vessel has only had helicopters land on its deck.
Although it has yet to be put to the test, some already say the USS Gerald R. Ford is an example of the Navy's costly and risky bet on "immature" technology.
Experts say the Navy's decision to roll out some untested technologies in its next-generation classes of ships has been a costly lesson. For example, the new Ford aircraft carrier going into the Navy fleet cost nearly $13 billion, or around $2.4 billion above plan.
Proud day for @USNavy and nation as we commission #USSGeraldRFord (CVN 78) - new capabilities Ford brings will transform naval warfare
The Navy "made a significant bet on the newest and latest cutting-edge technology, and it bet that all of those technologies would mature as these platforms were scheduled to come online," said Jerry Hendrix, senior fellow and director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security, a non-partisan Washington think tank.
Hendrix added, "Unfortunately some of those technologies did not mature. Hence, we're seeing some delays in some critical programs, including the new Ford-Class carrier."
Although years behind schedule, the Ford carrier was formally commissioned into the Navy's fleet Saturday in a ceremony in Virginia, which was attended by President Donald Trump. The president had previously visited the carrier in March.
In remarks Saturday, Trump called the Ford carrier "the newest, largest and most advanced aircraft carrier in the history of this world."
When building the new Ford carrier, the Navy ditched the steam-powered catapult system found on the older Nimitz-Class carriers and went instead with a electro-magnetic aircraft launch system. Similarly, the Navy went with an updated arresting gear to catch planes landing on the ship's deck.