A government spending watchdog has warned that the future USS Gerald R. Ford is unlikely to be ready for service when delivered so long as the navy adheres to a US$12.9 billion cost cap for the aircraft carrier. In a stark assessment, the latest Government Accountability Office report into the project has estimated a further US$988 million may be required to complete the Nimitz class follow-on to the expected operational standard.

Delivery of the ship, which is currently around 85 per cent complete, has already been moved back from September 2015 to March 2016 as thenavy wrestles with the engineeringand integration of a raft of new technologies, such as electromagneticcatapults.A construction contract for USS John F. Kennedy, the second of three planned ships, worth around US$4 billion, is expected to be placed soon, subject to final negotiation with the only shipyard capable of building such a vessel. This astronomical figure does not include the nuclear power plant, radar systems or launch and command-and-control equipment, which will add a further US$7.5 billion to the final cost.

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