Home » Budget Industry » USNI News Video: Sailors Talk First USS Gerald R. Ford Trap, Launch

USNI News Video: Sailors Talk First USS Gerald R. Ford Trap, Launch

F/A-18F Pilot Lt. Cmdr. Jamie ‘Coach’ Struck makes the first carrier arrested landing using new AAG system aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) on July 28, 2017. US Navy Photo

ABOARD USS GERALD R. FORD — On Aug. 1, 2017, USNI News spoke with sailors who manned Ford’s next-generation Advanced Arresting Gear and Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for the first trap and catapult from the $13 billion carrier’s flight deck.

EMALS and AAG are two of five transformational technologies resident on Ford and are designed to be crewed with fewer sailors and be more gentle on aircraft.

EMALS uses the same electromagnetic technology that launches modern roller coasters and can specifically dial in the force needed to launch an aircraft rather than the older, less precise Mk 13 steam catapults on the Nimitz-class.

An artist’s conception of the electromagnetic launch systems (EMALS). General Atomics Photo

The AAG sheds the messy hydraulics of the Mk 7 for a paddle wheel system that places less stress on the aircraft and requires less crew and maintenance.

“Typically in our manned aircraft designs, you have to build an airplane that fits within the operating envelope of the Mk-7 arresting gear and the Mk-13 catapults. So you kind of start with an operating envelope that gets you sort of a design of aircraft like we have now – F-18 Super Hornet, Growler, Joint Strike Fighter,” Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, then the Navy’s director air warfare told reporters in 2015.
“The aircraft are structured that way, they’re strengthened … you build weight and structure into the airplanes to accommodate the violence of the arrested landing. With the Advanced Arresting Gear and the ability to land an airplane – it’s still a controlled crash, but relatively more softly, and to launch it relatively more softly, and so a graduated kind of force as the airplane goes up – you can now start to do things with aircraft design that you couldn’t do before. It might allow us some more margin in weight, in size, and in structure and capability.”

An artist’s conception of an installed Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) on a U.S. carrier. General Atomics Image

Most of the sailors involved operating EMALS and AAG have worked on the system since 2013 and the arrestment was a culmination of years of work to integrate the system with the aircraft carrier.

Likewise, test pilots have spent years testing the systems at Naval Air Systems Command’s facility at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Both programs have been challenged and a target of public and legislative ire. Due to a major design flaw in the AAG from builder General Atomics, the Navy was considering ditching the system from future Ford-class aircraft carriers as late as last year.

In May, President Donald Trump expressed hard opinions on the system and a desire to switch Ford back to steam, but never formally engaged the Navy, USNI News understands.

Still, against the backdrop of criticism of both systems, Ford EMLAS operator ABE1 Jeremy Stoecklein told reporters on Tuesday that when test pilot Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Struck’s Super Hornet left the deck using EMALS he was filled with powerful emotions.

“It was euphoric,” he said.
“After that, it was, ‘Let’s do it again’.”

  • El_Sid

    A significant anniversary today – the centenary of the first landing of an aircraft on a moving ship, by Edwin Dunning on HMS Furious. He was killed trying to repeat the feat a few days later. QNLZ is in Scapa Flow today to commemorate him : www bbc co uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-40791496

  • Duane

    Score two for the US Navy … of course, the critics and trolls will never shut up, even long after they’re proven to be loudmouthed idiots. Like we need the most ignorant, narcissistic, simpleton of a POTUS ever designing our future carriers! Can anyone imagine any of our prior POTUS’s mouthing off like that? Including Bush 43 who actually did a trap on a steaming carrier a few years ago, and who in his youth piloted the supersonic F-102 “Delta Dagger”.

    • muzzleloader

      You used 5 words to extoll what a fantastic accomplishment our Navy acheived, followed by a 7 line paragraph venting your disgust for the president. I guess we know where you stand lol.

      • Duane

        His own words condemn him, not me.

        The Navy’s accomplishment doesn’t require a lot of “words” – it’s reality. While POTUS lives in his own little, very little world where the facts don’t matter.

    • magic3400

      AGREED!!!…and I only needed to use 1 word to agree with you.

  • b2

    Hey it works, thanks to the “Duane/Leroy’s of the world”, eh? We saw a video of courset- Sailor proof and on video to boot. Dad-gum.
    However, ot was only one data point folks- day VFR, light load, wind right down the deck, standard day. One DT jet in the pattern….Give me more until we have statistical significance and then I might be a simple cheerleader like you Duane-Leroy, lol…. BTW, I ain’t POTUS- I accumulated 712 traps day/night and in between, all wx’s, worldwide. Tell me again?

    • Duane

      I suppose we should be sour and critical instead?

      I wonder if such as you were knocking the accomplishments of the first Lexington launch and landing back in 1927. “Oh, you only did ONE landing … what does that prove? Come back and talk to me after you win a war or two before I believe in anything you’re doing.”

      • b2

        Well Duane, as a taxpayer and a lifelong carrier naval aviation “advocate” I know more than you and I can be a critic of this system as long as I need, or the system is finally considered “carrier suitable”. What is funny over 10 years ago I sat at a table after lunch and heard a naval aviator ADM, using magnets,to demonstrate how EMALS works and all the benefits this technology brings….. I like the concept then and even now, but I am just enough of analytical SOB to want it to truly work…Get it Duane ? I am glad Trump, a commercial real estate man and non-naval aviator is critical, too….for the other taxpayers that don’t know squat…

        • Duane

          Then it’s real simple, b2 – congratulate the Navy and the people who made the system work as reported, and leave it at that. Everybody knows the Ford is still about 2 and a half years or more from being IOC and deployable, so making snarky comments about something that the Navy and the post we’re commenting on did not actually claim – i.e., that EMALS is fully funtional and ready for warfare – would be better.

          It matters not in the slightest what you know vs. what I know. Neither of us is active duty Navy any longer. It matters, though, that we respect the people who are defending us from the bad guys to the very best of their abilities, and the results to date on this particular warship are positive and headed in the right direction.

          In other words, as we say in the Navy … stow it, sailor.

          • Stephen

            It’s new technology, let’s watch this unfold. People thought Dr. Goddard was off his rocker. Liquid rocket fuel? We just reflected on the Moon-Landing, lots of blood spilled in the making of that milestone. New stuff requires people willing to take chances. Every time a submarine makes a deep dive, we test the meddle & quality of workmanship. New ideas, new systems, new pitfalls & most important, new solutions…

          • Duane

            Yup … the grumps and Russian trolls can only be satisfied by never developing, period. They’re losers, all of them.

          • Bubblehead

            Since when does being critical of a new Naval technology mean I am doubting the ability of sailors aboard the Ford? The sailors on the ship did not design the EMALs. I support them 100%. They have nothing to do with the capabilities or lack there of of the EMALs. I truly hope, and believe, the technology will one day mature and be far superior to steam. But that day has not arrived yet.

            PS, take a chill pill

          • Duane

            I’m just fine, don’t need chilling. Snark and negativity are a downer, and do hurt morale of the troops. Hence, I told b2 to stow it.

            Nobody is popping champaign corks over the Ford, but the grumps and trolls are working overtime to try and discredit literally every single thing about the Ford, of which its crew is most proud. They do not appreciate the negativity.

  • marley

    due to the rigid consistent night & day, all weather training on the flight deck of a carrier considers them the best aircraft pilot around the world…

  • Bubblehead

    One launch and trap hardly makes it a successful system. From what I have heard there are major design flaws in the EMALs. On steam catapults, if there is a failure or the system has to go down for maintenance, it only takes down the pair of catapults. The remaining catapults are fully available for flight operations. However, on the EMALs there is no way to isolate a pair of catapults or no backup. When the system has to be taken down for maintenance or there is a failure, all catapults go down. In time of war this can be the difference btn survival and death. Im not sure what bonehead designed it this way, but future generations of EMALs need to have this fixed. Compounding the problem significantly, the failure rate of EMALs stands at about every 60 launches.

    • Duane

      Nobody claimed that EMALS is a proven success at this stage of developing a brand new system on board the Ford … so why do dudes like you and b2 feel so compelled to cast shadow and snark on claims that were not made?

      You don’t like EMALS, … fine … you are not in charge of the Navy. Great.

  • Is Trump watching this?

  • Bill

    It îs great to watch that video and see the capable, confident, and enthusiastic sailors who made this happen.

  • Kenneth Millstein

    A job well done!

  • old guy

    I am PROUD to say that the system was first developed as an ATD in 1977, by my people in NAVSEA 003 & 03R After initial work, we transferred it to Lakehurst, who has done a phenomenally great job in reducing it to practice. Incidentally, there have been numerous full scale trials. KUDOS to all.

    Small point. It was started because the Nuclear carriers did not need a big steam plant, It is about 25 tons lighter and 20% of the size.