Aircraft Carriers

EMALS, AAG complete 8,000 aircraft recoveries, launches on USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier

351 Naval aviators were qualified using EMALS and AAG throughout 2020 and 2021.

Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) achieved 8,000 aircraft recoveries and launches aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) on April 19, during the final independent steaming event of her 18-month Post Delivery Test & Trials (PDT&T) period.

Capt. Kenneth Sterbenz, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program manager (PMA-251) for EMALS and AAG, said ALRE finished PDT&T strong, and they are ready for the next step, as Ford prepares for Full Ship Shock Trials, which is scheduled to begin summer 2021.

“ALRE’s support of EMALS and AAG was admirable throughout the rigorous testing of PDT&T operations,” said Sterbenz in the NAVAIR news release. “On the way to reaching 8,000 launches and recoveries, we saw many Ford crew trained, learned a great deal about the systems, and laid invaluable groundwork for future Ford-class ships.”

As CVN 78 moved through PDT&T, ALRE had the opportunity to directly support the fleet, as 351 Naval aviators were qualified using EMALS and AAG throughout 2020 and 2021. Time and training also enabled a great increase in the efficiency of flight operations. More than 7,000 of Ford’s total launches and recoveries were completed in the last 18 months.

The Navy’s newest aircraft launch and recovery technology, the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System and Advanced Arresting Gear System, were 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, N.J., enable test, troubleshooting and Sailor training. Developed by prime contractor General Atomics, EMALS and AAG provide significant advancements to the Navy’s Ford-class aircraft carriers. EMALS and AAG require a smaller footprint in the ship, less maintenance, and less manpower than comparable steam catapults and arresting gear aboard Nimitz-class carriers.

For more than 40 years, Nimitz-class carriers have played the first-responder role in crises and conflicts. The delivery of CVN 77 in 2009 provided continued proof of the viability of the early-’60s design of the Nimitz-class carriers; these ships have served the nation well, and will continue to do so in the coming decades. According to All Hands, Ford-class ships will begin to succeed those of the Nimitz class when Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is commissioned. While the aircraft carrier’s basic mission will remain unchanged, Ford-class ships will deliver greater lethality, survivability, and joint interoperability, along with unmatched versatility and compatibility with continuing joint-force transformation – all at a reduced operating and maintenance cost to taxpayers. Ford will be capable of carrying the Navy’s most advanced aircraft, such as the F-35C Lightning II; F/A-18E/F Super Hornet; E-2D Advanced Hawkeye; EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft; MH-60R/S helicopters and unmanned air vehicles. Adding to its versatility, Ford will also be able to recover and launch various Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft flown by the United States Marine Corps. Finally, the design margins built into the ship will allow for integration of future manned and unmanned aircraft with minimal ship alterations.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F/A-18E Super Hornet VX-23 Salty Dogs, SD100

Photo credit: MC3 Elizabeth Thompson/U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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