The US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) completed aircraft compatibility testing (ACT) on January 31, following 16 days at sea, during which the crew launched and recovered 211 aircraft, testing five different airframes, using first-generation flight deck systems.
The testing phase included the first-ever underway catapult launches and arrested landings for the T-45 Goshawk and E/A-18G Growler from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23); as well as the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and C-2A Greyhound, from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20).
Crews also tested F/A-18F Super Hornets from VX-23, which earlier had conducted initial compatibility tests on board Ford in 2017.
As explained, the second and final round of testing validated the ship’s capability to launch and to recover aircraft with ordnance loadout and fuel states mirroring deployed requirements and operating tempos, using the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and advanced arresting gear (AAG)—two aircraft launch and recovery equipment (ALRE) systems unique to Ford.
By completing T-45 testing, the Ford will be able to provide carrier qualification support to the training command and to student naval aviators in the jet/E-2/C-2 pipeline.
During ACT, test pilots from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 and VX-23 conducted catapult launches and arrested landings in order to verify EMALS and AAG performance mandates. The shipboard events confirmed more extensive testing previously conducted ashore in Lakehurst, New Jersey, ensuring the operational safety of both aircrew and flight deck Sailors.