- The US Navy recently achieved a milestone in the development of the Advanced Arresting Gear for its new Ford-class aircraft carriers.
- During a test at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, a test team was able to recover aircraft 22 times in just over 26 minutes.
- One of the Navy’s ambitions for Ford-class carriers is increasing lethality by achieving a higher sortie rate than Nimitz-class carriers by using electromagnetic catapults, advanced weapons elevators, and new arresting gear.
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The US Navy recently achieved a milestone in the development of its advanced aircraft-recovery capabilities for its new supercarriers, Naval Air Systems Command announced this week.
During a challenging test of the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for the Navy’s new Ford-class aircraft carriers at the Runway Arrested Landing Site in Lakehurst, New Jersey, in October, the Navy was able to pull off 22 aircraft recoveries in about 26 minutes.
The AAG, a General Atomics turbo-electric aircraft-recovery system built as a more advanced alternative to the MK 7 hydraulic arresting gear used on the Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers, is part of a suite of new technology incorporated into the Ford-class carriers.
Like the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and the Advanced Weapons Elevators, the arresting gear has also had its share of problems during the development process, but the Navy is making progress.
In August, the AAG was given a green light to recover all “props and jets,” according to the Aircraft Recovery Bulletin released that month. But now the Navy wants to make sure it can meet sortie-generation requirements: 28 aircraft recoveries in 21 minutes.
During the recent two-day AAG tests, the Navy team evaluated the ability of the AAG’s thermal-management system to handle the heat produced by fast-paced flight operations, NAVAIR said.
The Navy carried out the test with a single-wire system, rather than the three-wire system on the new carriers.
While the land-based testing has certain limitations that would not otherwise be seen with ship-based testing, which is expensive, dependent on the ship’s schedule and done only to confirm land-based testing results, the results of the latest tests were good, NAVAIR told Business Insider.
“This never-before accomplished test event was effectively executed with herculean efforts by a collaborative program office-fleet team,” Capt. Ken Sterbenz, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment program manager, said in a statement.
“This achievement represents a significant datapoint for AAG performance as experienced at our single engine land-based site. I’m highly confident with AAG going into CVN 78 Aircraft Compatibility Testing early next year where the full, three-engine recovery system configuration will be utilized.”
The recent testing involved five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, 25 maintainers from Carrier Air Wing 8, six pilots from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, and two sailors from the USS Gerald R. Ford, which is the first of a new class of carriers and the most advanced flattop in the Navy’s arsenal.
As of September, the AAG test program had completed more than 2,600 dead-load arrestments at the Jet Car Track Site and over 1,570 arrestments at the Runway Arrested Landing Site, NAVAIR said. The Ford has executed 747 sorties so far. Flight operations aboard CVN 78 are expected to begin early next year.