USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) logged its 4,000th aircraft launch and recovery on September 10, showcasing the performance capabilities of the ship’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), as part of the aircraft carrier’s 18-month Post Delivery Test & Trials (PDT&T) period.
Captain Kenneth Sterbenz, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program manager (PMA-251) for EMALS and AAG, noted the milestone is a significant achievement for both the ALRE program and the Ford crew.
«EMALS and AAG are consistently performing as expected and standing up to the rigorous testing of PDT&T operations», said Sterbenz. «Reaching 4,000 launches and recoveries is not only an important performance datapoint, but it also represents years of technological development and the dedication, professionalism, and successful work put forth by the ALRE team and CVN-78».
Ford’s EMALS and AAG systems are now more than halfway through the carrier’s test and evaluation period, and the ship’s force remains on track to complete all required assessments and critical system milestones in preparation for CVN-78 to formally enter the fleet.
Shannon Coulter, PMA-251 assistant program manager for Systems Engineering, has been aboard Ford for every fixed-wing launch and recovery, including the first aircraft launch and recovery in 2017.
«It’s been incredibly rewarding for the team to watch AAG and EMALS mature over the past nine months, as Ford’s crew gains significant experience and increased confidence with maintenance and operations», said Coulter. «The NAVAIR and General Atomics programmatic, engineering, maintenance, and logistics team has done an absolutely outstanding job of supporting CVN-78 over the past 4,000 EMALS and AAG launches and recoveries, and we look forward to strong system performance throughout the remaining PDT&T events».
The U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft launch and recovery technology was designed for use aboard Ford-class aircraft carriers, beginning with USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78). Land-based test sites, located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, enable test, troubleshooting and Sailor training. Managed by the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office (PMA-251) and developed by prime contractor General Atomics, EMALS and AAG provide significant technological advancements to the U.S. Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carriers, requiring a smaller footprint aboard the ship, less maintenance, and less manpower than comparable steam catapults and arresting gear aboard the USS Nimitz (CVN-68)-class carriers.