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.