Aircraft Launch, Recovery Historic 1st Aboard USS Ford

With the first successful launch and recovery of a fighter jet aboard the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the U.S. Navy made history during a brief test event July 28.

The newly commissioned ship’s Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS) figured prominently in the flight operations, which comprised one arrestment and one launch.

These were performed during this limited risk reduction testing, while approximately 75 of each will be performed during Aircraft Compatibility Testing this fall, and hundreds more during the ship’s ISE periods leading up to her Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA).

“This is an enormous milestone for naval aviation and I'm very excited to be a part of it,” said Lt. Cmdr. James “Coach” Struck, who piloted the F/A-18-E/F Super Hornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23. “I get chills when I think of the millions of hours of work it took to engineer, develop and manufacture this ship and its revolutionary systems.”

“I get chills when I think of the millions of hours of work it took to engineer, develop and manufacture this ship and its revolutionary systems.”

Struck made the historic landing on the Ford’s flight deck and subsequently launched from this ship’s electromagnetic-powered catapults, demonstrating the capabilities of these highly scrutinized systems.

The intent of the brief underway period, referred to as Independent Steaming Event (ISE) Alpha, was to seize an available opportunity to exercise the new systems, explained Cmdr. Pete Arrobio, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) Program Office (PMA-251) deputy program manager for EMALS and AAG.

 “During my 21-year career, I’ve never witnessed the level of effort and dedication exhibited by the team charged with integrating and testing these two technologies into America’s newest aircraft carrier,” Arrobio said. “It’s truly an honor and a privilege to work with so many that exemplify such dedication to supporting our Sailors and expanding the Navy’s capabilities.”

While this is an important milestone for the program, there is still work ahead for the team, Arrobio added. Further testing to expand AAG’s Aircraft Recovery Bulletin, supporting the arrestment of all the aircraft types in the Ford-class’ full air wing, continues at two land-based test sites on Joint Base McGuire-Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Sailors continue to receive operations and maintenance training for the two systems.

PMA-251’s EMALS and AAG fall under the management umbrella of the Navy’s Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs (PEO(T)) Rear Adm. Mike Moran, who recognized the significant effort by the PMA-251 team, whose members work at both NAS Patuxent River and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to get us to this point.

“While this is certainly not an end point, it is a solid indication of the program’s ability to meet the Navy’s requirement,” Moran said.

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Jul 29, 2017