The US Navy has announced that the first-in-class carrier USS Gerald R. Ford completed flight-deck and carrier air-traffic control center certifications on March 20.
Over a two-day period, F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets from four squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 conducted 123 day and 42 night catapult launches and trap recoveries aboard the Ford, along with a Precision Approach Landing Systems (PALS) certification event, the Navy said in a statement.
The warship is now eligible to perform carrier qualifications for new pilots and other missions to support the fleet. “[Ford] is now ready to give back to the fleet, as the only carrier qualification asset regularly available on the east coast this year.”
The certification comes a day after Ford announced it had recovered its 1,000th aircraft with its Advanced Arrest Gear system and launched its 1,000th aircraft from the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) catapults, two and a half years after the first of each took place on July 28, 2017.
The Ford is currently in its fifth out of 18-month post-delivery test and trials period. The carrier finished aircraft compatibility testing in late January after successfully launching and landing five kinds of aircraft a total of 211 times.
The certification process is meant to access the performance of pilots and crews by mimicking scenarios that they would face in future deployment. In one, aircraft were stacked up behind the carrier in two-mile increments, the usual landing pattern for at-sea operations, requiring Ford to trap aircraft just 55 seconds apart.