The US Navy’s newest supercarrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, may struggle to launch and recover aircraft, mount a defence and move munitions.

It has been reported that on-board systems for the previously mentioned tasks have poor or unknown reliability issues, according to a June the 28th memo obtained by Bloomberg News.

Michael Gilmore, the Defense Department’s director of operational test and evaluation, wrote:

“These four systems affect major areas of flight operations. Unless these issues are resolved, which would likely require redesigning, they will significantly limit the CVN-78’s ability to conduct combat operations.

Based on current reliability estimates, the CVN-78 is unlikely to conduct high-intensity flight operations at the outset of a war.”

In January 2014, the annual Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report said that critical ship systems including the EMALS, Advanced Arresting Gear, Dual Band Radar, and weapons elevators were not reliable enough and needed more testing and improvements.

EMALS testing recorded 201 launch failures out of 1,967 launches, equaling a reliability rate of 240 mean cycles (launching of one aircraft) between critical failures. Testing of the Advanced Arresting Gear recorded 9 arresting failures out of 71 attempts, equaling a reliability rate of 20 mean cycles (recovery of one aircraft) between operational mission failure, a failure rate 248 times higher than should be expected.

Those systems performed at a fraction of their requirements for shipboard configurations, and even less of required standards. Radar and weapons elevator test data was not made available, but were also below expectations.

The US Navy maintains that further testing will resolve the problems.


    • Apparently the problem was that the EMALS technology wasn’t actually tested – at all – prior to being chucked into production. Hence the issues with the catapaults spontaneously going off half cocked chucking planes and pilots into the sea, etc.

      • Can you point me to any reference that reports about the EMALS system sponanteously activating and sending aircraft into the sea? I’d like to read about this issue, if it really exists.


    • So while there is scope for “testing in a live production environment” as some of us in IT would say this is literally more like “draw something up on the blackboard, do some mock ups on a computer THEN chuck it into a live production environment”!

  1. Now I know why the MoD suddenly dropped EMALS like it was hot and switched back to the F35B and the ski-jump. EMALS simply not ready for full use yet and it would have probably pushed back the in service date for the QE class carriers by a couple of years.

    At least now we can wait for EMALS to mature and fit it at a later date if we wanted…

  2. just minor teething problems just look at the Nimitz class from the first to last how they have evolved, changes ober time, ford is a big leap but also a test bed for plenty of changes, just like anything it takes time to iron ourt bugs she will be a formidable item when shes fully oporastional

  3. USS Gerald R Ford is a slightly different and larger version of the Nimitz class, you could say it is Nimitz Mark 3, they’ll get the EMALS system up and working

  4. dont mean they won’t add to it. Ships are somewhat like PC’s for example you can add or ditch something want or dont need. And if i remember correctly there was a carrier scrapped in the past year or two so it might be the replacement so it is just a gigantic Game of Trial and error.


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