General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced that the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) have been cleared for shipboard launch and recovery of all currently deployed Naval aircraft types aboard U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
CVN 78 completed at-sea Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT), on Jan. 31, utilizing a range of aircraft for the flight deck testing, including F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound, EA-18G Growler, and T-45C Goshawk, to prove EMALS and AAG can accommodate the air wing aircraft. The ACT, which began on Jan. 16, saw the CVN 78 crew launching and recovering 211 aircraft.
The Navy later issued Aircraft Launch Bulletins (ALB) and Aircraft Recovery Bulletins (ARB) which identify the weights and engaging speeds authorized for shipboard aircraft launch and recovery, and signal EMALS and AAG are operationally safe for use aboard CVN 78.
“EMALS and AAG can launch and recover the current air wing and any future aircraft, to provide greater flexibility than the legacy systems aboard Nimitz-class carriers,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “The Navy is expecting flight deck certification to take place in the coming months and will conduct a steady stream of cats and traps this year – we’re talking in the thousands – to move the ship closer to full mission capability and capacity.”
The Gerald R. Ford now has 958 total traps to date and will likely surpass 1,000 launches and arrestments during the upcoming Flight Deck Certification (FDC) phase, currently scheduled for March, when her crew and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Eight will take over all aspects of flight operations.
GA-EMS is also delivering EMALS and AAG for the second and third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80).
According to a company statement, “significant cost savings are being realized through multiple ship production contracts, which minimize gaps in production while maximizing planning, scheduling and delivery to support all three Ford-class carriers”.
“The next few months are really where all the hard work comes together to intensely exercise these systems to meet CVN 78 operational objectives,” stated Rolf Ziesing, vice president of Programs at GA-EMS. “This is a very exciting time for us, generating a great deal of team pride as EMALS and AAG successfully performs. We remain laser-focused on our support of the Ford and ensuring that same success comes to fruition on the future CVN 79 and CVN 80.”