GOP senator slams Pentagon over new aircraft carrier

GOP senator slams Pentagon over new aircraft carrier
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Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOnly all-male state Supreme Court set to get female justice GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE The real reason Scott Pruitt is gone: Putting a key voting bloc at risk MORE (R-Iowa) slammed the Pentagon over its new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, calling its construction delays and cost overruns "unacceptable."

"While I do agree we want it to be state-of-the-art, what we have seen with this particular aircraft carrier is that it is years beyond the target completion date and it is billions of dollars over budget," Ernst told radio host John Catsimatidis in an interview that aired Sunday on New York's AM 970.

"It is unacceptable for our taxpayers. And you know what? Americans really don't care what the latest and greatest is, especially if it's just sitting in port," added Ernst, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Ernst said that "those billions of dollars could have gone into many other needy programs within the Department of Defense," adding, "This is one example of not working smarter."

The nearly $13 billion aircraft carrier was commissioned into active duty last month following eight years of construction and development. President Trump spoke at the ship's official commissioning ceremony last month in Norfolk, Va.

The ship is only the first of the Navy's new Ford class carriers. The next ship is currently about halfway to completion, and construction on a third Ford class carrier is set to get underway next year.

In all, the three ships are expected to cost close to $42 billion. 

But Ernst noted that the USS Gerald Ford itself will not set sail for another year. Such advanced technology means nothing, she said, if it takes so long to be developed. 

"We see Russia and many other near-peer competitors continually outpacing us," she said. "And if we're spending years and years and years beyond a target date to develop the latest and greatest, we're falling behind."