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The US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford launched and recovered her first fixed-wing aircraft off the coast of Virginia.

According to a press release, the first arrested landing, or “trap”, occurred at 3:10 PM (EST) and the first catapult launch happened at 4:37 PM (EST).

“Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Struck of Tallmedge, Ohio piloted the F/A-18F Superhornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 based at Patuxent River, Maryland. 

The Superhornet caught the number two arresting wire of Ford’s advanced arresting gear (AAG) system and was launched from catapult one using the electromagnetic launch system (EMALS).”

Adm. Phil Davidson, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces said:

“Today, USS Gerald R. Ford made history with the successful landing and launching of aircraft from VX-23 using the AAG and EMALS.

Great work by the Ford team and all the engineers who have worked hard to get the ship ready for this milestone.”

AAG and EMALS have been successfully tested ashore at Lakehurst, New Jersey, but this is the first shipboard recovery and launch of a fleet fixed wing aircraft.”

According to the US Navy, the mission and function of EMALS remains the same as the traditional steam catapult; however, it employs entirely different technologies. It delivers ‘necessary higher-launch energy capacity, improvements in system maintenance, increased reliability and efficiency, and more accurate end-speed control and smooth acceleration’.

EMALS is designed to expand the operational capability of the Navy’s future carriers to include all current and future planned carrier aircraft – from lightweight unmanned aircraft to heavy strike fighters.

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