USS Gerald R. Ford Completes Testing of Vital Combat Systems

The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) recently completed testing of vital combat systems while underway in the Atlantic Ocean, the Navy announced.

These tests, conducted during Ford’s 18-month post-delivery test and trials (PDT&T) phase, are designed to stress the ship’s combat system capabilities and demonstrate the successful integration of new technologies, which the crew employs to defend the aircraft carrier. The PDT&T trials ensure the carrier’s overall deployment readiness.

“The tests exercise the combat systems suite as a complete unit and ensure maximum availability to meet combat and self-defense mission requirements,” said Cmdr. Ron McCallister, Ford’s combat systems officer. “In the end, the combat systems suite achieves maximum readiness and the Sailors develop more operational and technical competence.”

Ford’s first certification of integrated combat systems tested the Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon (ATCRB) and Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF). The tests, conducted over several days, evaluated the ATCRB’s ability to track air and surface contacts and to identify friendly and enemy aircraft using an advanced identification system.

An interrogator system was used to challenge the aircraft transponders for identification. The interrogator, Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), and the Ships Self-Defense Systems (SSDS) work together to provide combat identification. IFF is used not only for positive, secure, friend identification but also to control aircraft.

Ford also recently completed sea-based developmental testing (SBDT) of vital combat systems. This was the first full test of the integrated combat system against tactical adversaries. Testing was conducted with Kfir and Hawker Hunter jet aircraft from the Airborne Tactical Advantage Company. Ship’s crew tracked the aircraft, using Ford’s Dual Band Radar (DBR).

As part of the SBDT, Sailors in Ford’s combat systems department conducted an up-load of simulated munitions for operators in the ship’s Combat Direction Center (CDC) to simulate engaging the aircraft.

USS Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. The aircraft carrier is underway conducting carrier qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean.

The carrier recently completed her Flight Deck Certification (FDC) and Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) Certification. She also completed her first vertical replenishment (VERTREP) with MH-60S Seahawk helicopters on March 24.

Ford is now the Navy’s only carrier qualification asset regularly available on the east coast this year.

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