Home » Budget Industry » VIDEO: USS Gerald R. Ford Conducts First Arrested Landing, Catapult Launch

VIDEO: USS Gerald R. Ford Conducts First Arrested Landing, Catapult Launch

F/A-18F Pilot LCDR Jamie R. Struck the makes first carrier arrested landing using AAG system aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) off the Virginia coast. US Navy Photo

Six days after commissioning, the crew of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) launched and recovered their first aircraft from the carrier’s flight deck, according to a statement from the service.

The recovery of the F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX- 23 occurred at 3:10 P.M. EST off the coast of Virginia.

Lt. Cmdr. Jamie “Coach” Struck’s Super Hornet hit the number two wire on the Advanced Arresting Gear systems and then launched a little more than an hour later using the ship’s electromagnetic launch system (EMALS).

Lt. Cmdr. Jamie “Coach” Struck. US Navy Photo

The test came as a surprise to many naval observers who expected the first arrested landing on Ford to come sometime next week.

“AAG and EMALS have been successfully tested ashore at Lakehurst, New Jersey, but this is the first shipboard recovery and launch of a fleet fixed wing aircraft,” said Capt. Rick McCormack, Ford’s commanding officer, said in a statement.
“My team has worked closely with industry, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and the flight test community.”

The successful test comes days after the Navy said it had worked through a software issue with the EMALS system and after years of delays in both the General Atomics-built systems. Design problems with the AAG pushed the testing program back two years before the contractor and the Navy could find an acceptable fix.

“I could not be more proud of the men and women who, for the better part of the last two decades, have worked to bring these new technologies to the fleet,” said Capt. Stephen Tedford, program manager, said in a statement.
“Their perseverance and dedication to service have made this day possible.”

The following is the complete July 28, 2017 statement from the service on the recovery and launch tests.


Less than one week after Pres. Donald J. Trump commissioned the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) launched and recovered its first fixed-wing aircraft July 28, 2017off the coast of Virginia. The first arrested landing, or “trap”, occurred at 3:10 PM (EST) and the first catapult launch happened at 4:37 PM (EST).

Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Struck of Tallmedge, Ohio piloted the F/A-18F Superhornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 based at Patuxent River, Maryland.

The Superhornet caught the number 2 arresting wire of Ford’s advanced arresting gear (AAG) system, and was launched from catapult 1 using the electromagnetic launch system (EMALS).

“Today, USS Gerald R. Ford made history with the successful landing and launching of aircraft from VX-23 using the AAG and EMALS,” said Adm. Phil Davidson, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces. “Great work by the Ford team and all the engineers who have worked hard to get the ship ready for this milestone.”

“AAG and EMALS have been successfully tested ashore at Lakehurst, New Jersey, but this is the first shipboard recovery and launch of a fleet fixed wing aircraft,” said Capt. Rick McCormack, Ford’s commanding officer.
“My team has worked closely with industry, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), and the flight test community to make this historic event in Naval aviation happen. I am very proud of my crew.”

F/A-18F Pilot LCDR Jamie R. Struck the makes first carrier arrested landing using AAG system aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) off the Virginia coast. US Navy Photo

The software-controlled AAG is a modular, integrated system that consists of energy absorbers, power conditioning equipment and digital controls, with architecture that provides built-in test and diagnostics, resulting in lower maintenance and manpower requirements. AAG is designed to provide higher reliability and safety margins, as well as to allow for the arrestment of a greater range of aircraft and reduce the fatigue impact load to the aircraft.

The mission and function of EMALS remains the same as the traditional steam catapult; however, it employs entirely different technologies. It delivers necessary higher-launch energy capacity, improvements in system maintenance, increased reliability and efficiency, and more accurate end-speed control and smooth acceleration. EMALS is designed to expand the operational capability of the Navy’s future carriers to include all current and future planned carrier aircraft – from lightweight unmanned aircraft to heavy strike fighters.

“I could not be more proud of the men and women who, for the better part of the last two decades, have worked to bring these new technologies to the fleet,” said Capt. Stephen Tedford, program manager. “Their perseverance and dedication to service have made this day possible.”

“My team has worked very hard, together with experts from NAVAIR, Huntington Ingalls Industries, and General Atomics, to test this first-in-class technology,” said Cmdr. Thomas Plott, head of Ford’s air department. “Today is a validation of their dedication and hard work.”

  • DaSaint

    Congrats! Job well done.

  • airider

    Team America F-Yeah!

  • 160401

    Sierra Hotel!

  • Hugh

    It’s been a long time replacing the 1955 technologies……….

    • mikehorn

      A little unfair…. they were constantly upgraded in many ways.

      The engines are still steam turbines, 100 years old tech. But the ones here are nothing like what the pre-WWI battleships got.

      • Hugh

        Just considering the concept. Also consider the concepts – guns have been around for centuries, ships have been around for thousands of years and are still tied up alongside with ropes……..all with upgraded tech.

        • jon spencer


  • BlueSky47

    Bravo Zulu!!!!!!!

  • mikehorn

    I didn’t think they were this far along… nice job. If we can demonstrate reliability in real world operations, either ashore or afloat, it sounds like the biggest issues are done. This goes a decent way to demonstrating the ship is gtg.

  • john

    That is impressive. Extremely impressive.

  • Lee Adam Cohen

    This is a big deal! Finally, some really good news about the troubled EMALS system.

  • Matthew Schilling

    That is great! Did they push the software update onto the carrier early? Of course, I think that had more to do with Super Hornets carrying extra fuel…

  • Harold Pollitt

    Why are we making this pubic this sort of thing should be kept quite!

    • Matthew Schilling

      It should be a secret that an aircraft carrier, designed to launch and recover jets, just launched and recovered a jet?

    • imallpissedoff

      Even if they kept the American public in the dark our potential enemies (Russia, China…) are watching with satellites, subs, and who knows what else.

    • Rob C.

      Because their trying bolster the image of the Ford-Class from a very expensive experimental ship on verge of failure to a Full-Functional Aircraft Carrier able to do it’s intended job.
      The ship pulled it off, keeping it’s successful launch of it’s aircraft isn’t much of a secret needing to be kept. Hard to hide a nearly 100,000 on aircraft from prying eyes of satellites or surveillance aircraft.

  • imallpissedoff

    Wow, after all the fake news about what an expensive failure the Ford class is, I was expecting it to sink as it weakly lobbed the F-18 into the sea.
    But seriously, anyone with half a brain paid no attention to the anti American, anti military, far left media, and always knew that this carrier is going to be AWESOME!

    • Ken N

      Baloney. The EMALS and AAG had some serious problems that caused it to go way over budget and even caused the Navy to consider to switching back to steam for the follow on carriers.. There are other concerns still outstanding as well. Nothing fake about it. With that said I think its awesome that they are getting the kinks worked out. The video of the Super Hornet catapulting off the bow for the first time is spectacular.

      • sferrin

        Did you actually believe they wouldn’t “get the kinks worked out”? Bringing a new system into service ALWAYS has kinks to work out. This is not news.

        • Ken N

          Yeah it was news. And it it was a little bit more than just kinks. If you think otherwise you really haven’t been paying attention.

      • imallpissedoff

        It’s fake news because whenever a new system is being fielded the left wing, anti military, media has a field day exaggerating every problem, and cost over run. Anyone with any sense knew this carrier would be AWESOME!
        The only problem with the EMALS was, that it was imparting “excessive vibration” on F-18’s loaded with external fuel tanks. The concern was never with the EMALS’s ability to launch aircraft, but with airframe stresses, over time, that could possibly shorten the life of the airframe. It was a software fix, but, as usual, the left wing, anti military media wants to leave the false impression that the Ford class is an expensive boondoggle. Which is, FAKE NEWS.
        And, I’m sure there will be more problems with this carrier, and its systems, and they will be worked out, too.

        • Ken N

          I don’t doubt that there were plenty of articles bashing the Ford class but your sadly misinformed if you think the only problem with EMALS was excessive vibration. At one point the Navy was considering abandoning EMALS in the follow on carriers. I’m still not sure the reliability issues have been completely addressed but they were pretty dismal a year ago along with AAG, new elevators, and the DBR radar. A major selling point of the FORD class would be it’s ability to significantly conduct more aircraft sorties than the Nimitz class. Even adjusted for inflation the new carriers cost BILLIONs more than the Nimitz class. If the class can’t support the increase sortie rate because of EMALS/AAG issues, after billions spent, you wouldn’t call that that a boondoggle??

          • imallpissedoff

            I’m not worried about any of it Ken N. This class of carriers will be even more successful than the Nimitz class. You’ll see. And all the naysayers will be wrong … again.
            The only thing that troubles me with any modern weapon system is the insatiable desire to automate absolutely everything. You can’t hack a manually operated valve, or take it out with an EMP.

          • USNVO

            You make the same mistake most people make. The acquisition cost of a CVN a minor part of how much it really costs. Even being $2 Billion over budget, it is projected to be $5 billion cheaper than a Nimitz class over its lifespan (sure it is only $100 million a year but with 9 of them, the tenth is free). But that’s not all, you also get less maintenance and more operating time over its lifetime, 5 Ford class will have as many operating days as 6 Nimitz Class (that is something like four free deployments over its lifetime). But wait, it uses fewer sailors as well. Many of them are really hard to find and expensive nuclear trained sailors so beyond the money savings already included, you have more sailors you can use somewhere else. You don’t like the manning on DDGs? For each Ford in service, you can add something like 5 sailors to every DDG in the fleet.

            So no, only in the most narrow, and frankly just wrong headed, way of looking at things is the Ford more expensive than a Nimitz class.

          • Ken N

            I’m merely focusing on the problems with EMALS and AAG. A LOT of money was spent on these systems with the promise of a greater sortie rate then the Nimitz class. It still remains to be seen if that will pan out. And if the increase sortie can’t be met and EMALS/AAG reliability issues aren’t resolved you won’t get the decrease in maintenance and more operating time that you factored into your cost savings.

          • USNVO

            Well, beyond not understanding the cost issue, you also seem confused on EMALS/AAG. Neither system is designed to increase the sortie rate in the slightest. They couldn’t even if they worked perfectly and never broke down because they are not the limiting factor. They are designed to require far less personnel to operate and dramatically less maintenance. As a side benefit, they may be less violent on the aircraft as well. But the increase in daily sortie generation comes from faster turn time as a result of improved layout of the flightdeck and refuel/rearm stations. Even that is somewhat exaggerated since total sorties is more a factor of the mission and longer missions lead to fewer sorties, as do aircraft in alert status, even if the aircraft can be turned faster. So even if they are only as reliable as the systems they replace, all the other benefits will be accrued.

            As for the reliability piece, since the first shipboard operational system has a grand total of four actual launch and recoveries to date, done for the purpose of risk reduction on later testing, I think any rational individual would have to conclude it is a little too early to say anything about reliability of the system, either good or bad. There just isn’t enough data to make a reasonable decision.

          • Ken N

            No..I’m not confused..but it sure seems you are. I never said an increase sortie rate requirement was a direct result of EMALS/AAG..but they would directly SUPPORT the requirement. If EMALS/AAG doesn’t meet the specified reliability specs and breaks down a lot the sortie rate requirement goes out the window. And your wrong about the reliability data. There was plenty of it. Enough that the Navy considered abandoning EMALS and AAG altogether on the Kennedy and Enterprise. Maybe you should also take a look at the DOT&E 2016 Ford Class annual report.

        • On Dre

          Waaah left news….wahhh.STFU sissy boy.
          The ONLY issue I heard WRT the Ford was some golden cow whining that he “WANTED DAMN STEAM!”

    • sferrin

      The MSM makes money off of generating controversy. Remember the Bradley with “flammable armor” that was going to go up like a firework because it was made of rocket propellant- “just like the Hindenberg!!” (Apparently the “journalist” was told by somebody that aluminum was used in rocket propellant. Apparently nobody told them iron was too in some instances.)

    • Kenneth Millstein

      I think Trump is the only person to think this beautiful fighting machine wouldn’t work with the EMALS system. I can’t remember the far left media criticizing the Navy for utilizing 21st century technology.

      • wilkinak

        You need to get out more or spend more time around the shipbuilding communities. There has been a lot of unflattering discussion on EMALS for at least 10 years. AAG slid under the radar for a long time before people noticed many of it’s issues.

  • muzzleloader


  • Aaron1960

    The way that pilot landed that bird, made it so easy.

  • Tuan Anh Nguyen

    Come on, you can’t misspell the word Squadron like that…with the UNI logo on it? Please correct it.

  • CharleyA

    I wonder if they used “Magic Carpet” or Delta flight path to assist the landing.

  • Chesapeakeguy


  • AncientSubHunter

    Congrats to the crew of CVN-78! Very nice!

  • Western

    Kudos to the Navy photographer that captured the F-18 with the Ford in the background. Well done.

  • Bubblehead

    There is however a major design flaw in the EMALS. In the old steam catapults, if a catapult had problems, it only took down the pair of catapults. Unlike Top Gun, the others were still operable. In the EMALs system, all the catapults are tied together and unable to be isolated. This means, if EMALs experiences a problem, every catapult goes down leaving the carrier a sitting duck. This was a very boneheaded design. I hope they fix it in future carriers. The problem is compounded by EMALs being very unreliable, and fails at a very high rate. Hopefully with more experience the failure rate could be brought down.

    But as of now, I see this carrier as not fit for war and a danger to the crew. Time will tell….

  • RobM1981


  • sferrin

    God, all the rust visible, on a brand new carrier, is almost embarrassing. Is pride a thing of the past in today’s USN? Wouldn’t see it on a Chinese carrier.

    • Ken N

      Can’t tell if your serious or not.

      • sferrin

        Well that answers one question.

  • Jay Branch

    Curious if the the Hornet aft of the island was flown or craned aboard?

  • Ken N

    Yep..its true. Here’s an excerpt from the DOT&E 2016 report.

    The reliability concerns are exacerbated by the fact that the
    crew cannot readily electrically isolate EMALS components
    during flight operations due to the shared nature of the
    Energy Storage Groups and Power Conversion Subsystem
    inverters onboard CVN 78. The process for electrically
    isolating equipment is time-consuming; spinning down the
    EMALS motor/generators takes 1.5 hours by itself. The
    inability to readily electrically isolate equipment precludes
    EMALS maintenance during flight operations, reducing the
    system’s operational availability.

  • Kenneth Millstein

    Hey Trump, that EMALS system seams to work very well. Do you still think the Navy should replace it with a steam catapult system? Speaking for myself I think not!

    • On Dre

      He also gave Goose and Maverick permission to buzz the tower. Take that left wing media!

      • Kenneth Millstein

        Sorry On Dre, I can’t seem to make out from the Top Gun analogy if you like or don’t like my comment. Please advise! Thank you!

  • dragonflyhi

    Traps have sure advanced from my time aboard the Saratoga. Hi tech is a good fit for the modern “flat tops” !!