Tag Archives: USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)

ATARI

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) was the first kid on the block to get a new ATARI. No, not the iconic gaming system from the 80s, but a system designed to remotely land aircraft on a carrier. Abraham Lincoln’s friends, the other carriers, should be jealous.

Landing signal officers work with the aircraft terminal approach remote inceptor in preparation for incoming aircraft to land on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josue Escobosa/Released)
Landing signal officers work with the aircraft terminal approach remote inceptor in preparation for incoming aircraft to land on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Josue Escobosa/Released)

ATARI, or Aircraft Terminal Approach Remote Inceptor, was, for the first time ever, successfully demonstrated during a touch-and-go on an aircraft carrier while conducting carrier qualifications and flight testing aboard Abraham Lincoln. ATARI gives Landing Signal Officers (LSOs) the ability to take over and maneuver aircraft during recovery operations.

«I was really impressed with LSO’s ability get me to touch down», said Lieutenant John Marino, a carrier suitability pilot from the «Salty Dogs» of Air test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23, and the first pilot to land on a flight deck using ATARI. «The conditions were really varsity (difficult), and it was really impressive the system worked the way it did. On a calm day, it would have been a little bit boring, but this was definitely more challenging».

Developed at Naval Air station Patuxent River, Maryland by Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), ATARI was originally been tested in a Learjet in 2016, performing shore-based low approaches. In 2017, F/A-18s were fitted with this technology and after extensive testing and quality assurance, VX-23 was confident enough to test their system at-sea.

«There was some nervousness because the sea state was so bad», said Marino. «Back on the airfield, testing was benign».

LSOs are capable of taking over an aircraft from up to five miles away using the ATARI. The system demonstrates a potential method for recovering an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) by using the LSO’s ability to observe and fix glideslope and lineup errors. Though not intended to be a primary method for recovering aircraft, it does provide a relatively inexpensive backup system in the case and an LSO needs on to step in and use their expertise and training to safely guide an aircraft. Along with the ATARI, a van outfitted with the ATARI system was brought aboard and setup behind the LSO platform to allow the engineers to watch the approaches in real-time, monitor safety-of-flight data and ensure passes were going smoothly. The van recorded flight data for engineers to analyze later and allowed VX-23 to test their system without having to install it Abraham Lincoln.

«We don’t have unmanned carrier-based vehicles in the fleet today, but they are coming soon», said Dan Shafer, a NAVAIR air vehicle engineer. «This is a potential alternative landing method and our system performed well».

Much like its namesake, ATARI uses a joystick to control a UAV, or in this case for testing purposes, an F/A-18 outfitted with the system and a safety pilot sitting in the cockpit. The LSOs use the joysticks to make corrections and safely land the aircraft on the flight deck.

«We took the guy who’s flying the aircraft and we moved him to the LSO platform», said Buddy Denham, a senior engineer at NAVAIR and creator of ATARI. «You’re effectively using little joystick controllers to guide a 40,000 lbs./ 18,144 kg airplane, and it’s almost like you’re playing a video game».

Prior to landing, the aircraft first had to perform three wave-offs to ensure all conditions were safe and the system could indeed take over the aircraft while-at sea. On the fourth approach, the system engineers and LSOs felt comfortable doing touch-and-goes.

«The deck was pitching significantly and yawing and rolling», said Denham. «It was particularly difficult to land that day, and we showed it’s possible to use this system even when the conditions aren’t ideal».

The ATARI testing was conducted over the course of two days in conjunction with carrier qualifications. Though not currently slated for fleet-wide implementation, yet the successful give it potential for future application. The ATARI engineers will analyze the data collected aboard Abraham Lincoln and make adjustments for further at-sea testing.

Carrier Qualifications

Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) completed fleet carrier qualifications (CQ) for the F-35C Lightning II program, marking another milestone for the new aircraft, while underway March 17-21.

An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the Rough Raiders of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 125 performs a touch and go on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Mark Logico/Released)
An F-35C Lightning II assigned to the Rough Raiders of Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 125 performs a touch and go on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Mark Logico/Released)

Pilots assigned to the «Rough Raiders» of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 and the «Grim Reapers» of VFA 101 accomplished day and night qualifications with 140 traps in anticipation of F-35C operational testing later this year.

Aboard for part of the CQ was Rear Adm. Dale Horan, director of the U.S. Navy F-35C Fleet Integration Office, who was previously embarked aboard Abraham Lincoln during a nine-and-a-half-month deployment in 2002.

«I have tight ties to Lincoln», said Horan. «It’s personally interesting for me, but also professionally, it’s really neat to see this aircraft out there with other aircraft; we haven’t done that before. Previously, all the CQ evolutions have just been F-35s».

The F-35C complements the tactical fighter fleet with a dominant, multirole, next-generation aircraft capable of projecting U.S. power and deterring potential adversaries. The continued integration of the F-35C into the carrier air wing will enable the carrier strike group of the future to be more lethal and survivable in high-end threat environments.

One of the major milestones for this carrier qualification evolution was the operational use of the F-35C’s foldable-wing feature. This feature is a critical component of the integration of F-35Cs with F/A-18C Hornets, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, facilitating the movement of the different platforms on the flight deck and rehearsing for operating as part of a full air wing aboard the carrier.

«My original platform is the Hornet, which I’ve flown for the past three years», said Lieutenant Nick Rezendes, a pilot attached to VFA 101, who qualified on the F-35C during this CQ. «I wanted to switch to flying the Navy’s newest aircraft, and now that I have, I wouldn’t mind sticking with it for the rest of my career».

Another important piece of this underway period was the continued integration of the F-35’s Autonomic Logistic Information System (ALIS) with Abraham Lincoln. ALIS is a secure, off-board fleet management tool that integrates F-35 mission planning, maintenance, supply chain and sustainment information. Operators were able to plan, maintain, and sustain F-35C systems by transmitting up-to-date data to users and maintainers worldwide.

During Abraham Lincoln’s previous F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) carrier qualifications in December of 2017, an operational squadron accomplished the use of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JPALS) for the first time. The GPS-based, all-weather landing system works to provide accurate and reliable information for carrier landing approach, allowing F-35Cs to land during inclement weather.

«It’s pretty clear that this aircraft is the Navy’s future for strike warfare», said Horan. «It’s shaping up to be a fantastic aircraft. As with any program, there are always complexities in getting it fielded, but we are working through those. This aircraft is very capable and it’ll be really neat to watch it develop».

By 2025, the Navy’s aircraft carrier air wings are scheduled to consist of F-35Cs, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers electronic attack aircraft, E-2D Hawkeye battle management and control aircraft, MH-60R/S helicopters and carrier on board delivery logistics aircraft.

 

F-35С Lightning II specifications

Length 51.5 feet/15.7 m
Height 14.7 feet/4.48 m
Wing span 43 feet/13.1 m
Wing area 668 feet2/62.1 m2
Horizontal tail span 26.3 feet/8.02 m
Weight empty 34,800 lbs/15,785 kg
Internal fuel capacity 19,750 lbs/8,960 kg
Weapons payload 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg
Maximum weight 70,000 lbs class/31,751 kg
Standard internal weapons load Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound (907 kg) GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings) F135-PW-400
Maximum Power (with afterburner) 43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/19,507 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner) 28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/13,063 kgf
Propulsion Length 220 inch/5.59 m
Propulsion Inlet Diameter 46 inch/1.17 m
Propulsion Maximum Diameter 51 inch/1.30 m
Propulsion Bypass Ratio 0.57
Propulsion Overall Pressure Ratio 28
Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6/1,043 knots/1,200 mph/1,931 km/h
Combat radius (internal fuel) >600 NM/683.5 miles/1,100 km
Range (internal fuel) >1,200 NM/1,367 miles/2,200 km
Max g-rating 7.5

 

Planned Quantities

U.S. Navy 260
U.S. Marine Corps 80
In total 340