The US Navy have announced the certification of a fifth Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) aboard USS Gerald R. Ford this week.

The first-of-class aircraft carrier logged this important milestone amid earlier controversy over the system at its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, just after completing a rigorous 32 days at sea.

The US Navy say that the ship attained flight deck certification and conducted additional catapult launches and arrested landings, bringing the total number of aircraft launched to more than 2,300.

“In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen an increase in the velocity of flight deck operations and new system certifications aboard Gerald R. Ford that’s beyond impressive,” said Rear Adm. James P. Downey, program executive officer for Aircraft Carriers.

“Certifying Lower Stage Weapons Elevator 5 [LSWE 5] is extraordinarily significant, in that we now have the capability to move ordnance from the aft magazine complex deep in the ship through the carrier to the flight deck with a speed and agility that has never been seen before on any warship in any fleet.”

The ability to identify and to mitigate issues associated with each elevator’s unique operational tolerances has generated hands-on physical adjustments and software refinements, ensuring that future AWE operations are sustainable and reliable, say the US Navy in a release.

“The elevators are operating as designed,” confirmed Capt. Ron Rutan, PMS 378 program manager for Gerald R. Ford.

“In the past year, Newport News Shipbuilding has turned over four of the ship’s 11 AWEs to the crew, with the ship’s force cycling each elevator approximately 20 times per day to make sure every system stays in good working order and to document sustained performance.”

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Watcherzero (@guest_503762)
11 months ago

5 of 11 elevators working and its only taken them 7 years after launch and 3 after commissioning. At this rate she might have all her elevators working in time for her midlife refurb!

Andy P
Andy P (@guest_503853)
11 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Not according to the Yanks, its “beyond impressive”. I thought our lot were full of hyperbole but I take my hat off to Rear Admiral Downey.

Spyinthesky (@guest_504566)
11 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Is it Rear Admiral Downey Junior, if so might account for some of it.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_503855)
11 months ago

I’m confused by “Advanced Weapons Elevator.” Is the elevator advanced, or the weapons it’s lifting? If the lift, what is so special about it?

pkcasimir (@guest_503905)
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Nimitz class carriers use cables to move the elevators up and down. The Ford elevators are commanded by electromagnetic, linear synchronous motors which is supposed to result in faster movement of the elevators and increase capacity. The elevators, when working, can move twice the load in half the time. Made possible by the two new AIB reactors on the Ford that generate three times as much power as a Nimitz class.

Now all they have to do is to fix the toilets.

Andy (@guest_504071)
11 months ago

Just goes to show what a good job we have done with QE.

ChariotRider (@guest_504239)
11 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Yeh, despite imposed delays and toying with redesigns the two carriers are shaping up quite nicely. One day our politicians might learn to keep their hands off complex engineering projects… but I ain’t holding me breath.

seth (@guest_504624)
11 months ago
Reply to  Andy

You have to take into consideration this is the first of possibly 10 ships. Much of the tech in the Ford is cutting edge and is still being ironed out. The QE may have been closer to operational on day 1, but consider the yanks will have superior tech that’s operational on ship 3,4,5,6 etc. You have to consider that significant delays on ship 1 is not that big of a deal when you consider the long term ambitions of the program. A 2-ship buy (QE) isn’t the same thing.