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.”