Launch system issues keep aircraft from flying on Ford carrier during tests



June 8 (UPI) — A fault in the launch system kept planes from launching from the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford during a five-day test, the Navy said.

The Ford was at sea for testing of communications and data systems, as well as flight operations, over the weekend, according to the Navy, but was unable to launch planes for five days.

A fault in the power-handling system connecting the ship’s turbines to its EMALS — Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System — was discovered on June 2 and not rectified until June 7, allowing flyoffs by the Carrier Air Wing. The cause of the fault remains under investigation.

The aircraft carrier, at 1,106 feet in length the largest ever built, was commissioned in 2017 and remains in 18-month Post-Delivery Test and Trial phase in the Atlantic Ocean.

The ship returned to Norfolk, Va., its home port, on Sunday.

“After several days of troubleshooting and assessing a fault in the launch system’s power handling elements, embarked EMALS experts and Ford’s crew restored the system to enable the safe fly-off of the air wing on Sunday morning, June 7,” the Navy told USNI.

The issue with the launch system is the latest problem in the ship’s history. Construction costs were estimated at 22 percent over budget in 2013, and the ship was late in delivery to the Navy.

Problems with its nuclear propulsion system and munitions elevators pushed construction costs to over $13 billion, making it the most expensive warship ever built.

The Navy highlighted the ability of the vessel’s crew in handling the problems in a Sunday statement by Rear Adm. Craig Clapperton, commander of the Ford’s strike group.

“The ship’s response to these EMALS challenges underscores our ability to identify and to correct issues impacting flight operations quickly. That’s the purpose of the PDT&T phase,” Clapperton said. “The learning and improvement that results from pushing the systems will make the ship and air wing team better and more effective in future underway events.”



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