General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced in April 2020 that successful trials on USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), lead ship of her class of United States Navy aircraft carriers, concerning Flight Deck Certification (FDC) had been completed using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system.
EMALS and AAG provide the range of capabilities necessary to launch and recover the full spectrum of carrier-capable aircraft. On one hand, EMALS uses electromagnetic technology to launch aircraft from the deck of naval aircraft carriers and offers significant benefits over current launch systems and on the other, AAG act as a turbo-electric system designed for controlled and reliable deceleration of aircraft.
The number of aircraft to have landed and taken off from the US Navy’s CVN 78 now totals more than 2,000, fleet squadrons from Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), as well as pilots from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 and Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 operating hundreds of sorties over a two week period with all arrested landings and catapult launches completed safely.
Assessing the future requirement of the US Navy, Scott Forney, President of GA-EMS informed that the company is continuously elaborating the EMALS and AAG’s performace according to specifications to execute cats and traps with the objective of reaching the robust evolution rates necessary for combat. Working closely with the Navy and CVN 78 crew, the team is making sure that the operational performance is achieved. “We remain extremely proud of our team, the squadrons’ pilots and the ship’s crew for all their hard work and dedication, and look forward to continuing success as CVN 78 undergoes these continued at sea periods,” stated Forney.
FDC is a qualification of the ship’s various aviation systems and includes the crews’ qualification to operate the numerous systems. FDC was completed on 20 March following day and night launch and recovery exercises with F/A-18E/F Super Hornets. FDC is intended to qualify and prove ship and crew capabilities under operational conditions that can occur while on deployment.
On 31 January, CVN 78 completed Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT), a significant milestone that exhibited EMALS and AAG’s ability to launch and recover five types of aircraft in varying configurations – four of which were for the first time. CVN 78 to accommodate the current naval air wing, including F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, C-2A Greyhound, EA- 18G Growler, and T-45C Goshawk aircraft.
GA-EMS is delivering EMALS and AAG for the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and USS Enterprise (CVN 80). Significant cost savings are being realised through multiple ship production contracts, which minimise gaps in production while maximising planning, scheduling and delivery to support all three Ford-class carriers.