Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] expects to receive a U.S. Navy contract late this year to begin buying materials for the third Ford-class aircraft carrier, Enterprise (CVN-80), according to a company official.

The contract will pay for long-lead-time items, said Matthew Mulherin, president of HII division Newport News Shipbuilding. The Navy’s fiscal year 2016 budget request, now pending in Congress, contains $875 million for CVN-80 advance procurement, including industry- and government-furnished equipment.

cvn-78Mulherin, who spoke at an April 14 media briefing at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition, said the first two Ford carriers, Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) and John F. Kennedy (CVN-79), are making progress despite the first ship’s well-publicized history of cost growth and technical glitches. CVN-78 is about 88 percent completed and is on track for delivery in 2016. Testing of the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) recently began aboard the CVN-78, and installation of the new Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) on the carrier is “coming along,” he said. CVN-79 will have its keel laying this year and is slated for delivery in 2022.

Other upcoming Navy ship milestones for HII include the delivery of its 10th San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, John P. Murtha (LPD-26), in 2016 and its 15th large-deck amphibious assault ship, Tripoli (LHA-7), in 2018, said Brian Cuccias, president of HII division Ingalls Shipbuilding. HII is producing several other ships for the Navy, including three Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyers.

On the international front, HII continues to talk with potential customers about a patrol frigate based on the National Security Cutter (NSC) it is building for the U.S. Coast Guard, Cuccias told reporters. The company has delivered four NSCs to the Coast Guard and is under contract for four more.