The U.S. Naval Air Traffic Management Systems Program Office completed Precision Approach and Landing System (known as PALS) certification on HMS Queen Elizabeth in March, completing a critical step in readying the ship for its first operational deployment.
The PALS system includes the AN/SPN-41B Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS), previously installed by PMA-213 as a foreign military sales (FMS) effort, and the AN/USN-3 Joint Precision and Approach Landing System (JPALS) system, installed as a U.S. asset to support the future embarkation of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211’s F-35Bs aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth during its inaugural operational deployment.
“The early phases of the installation were supported remotely by the Naval Air Warfare Center Webster Outlying Field (NAWCAD WOLF) Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems (ATC&LS) Division. Once the initial installation activities were completed, the NAWCAD WOLF team, led by Shawn Magoon, travelled to the United Kingdom in early February to finalize the installation and support the certification, but first had to overcome a few challenges.”
The team faced heightened U.K. coronavirus travel restrictions, unique policy questions concerning the installation of the JPALS system on HMS Queen Elizabeth, and even “a case of lost luggage, according to the U.S. Navy.
Capt. Kevin Watkins, U.S. Naval Air Traffic Management Systems programme manager.
“It truly is a testament to the individual determination, communication and leadership that all of our teammates embody, because each of these ship installs and certs was incredibly difficult, with barriers from COVID travel restrictions to first-time technical installation issues on a new ship class. Our team successfully overcame each daily challenge to deliver the needed capability to our International Allies and U.S. Marines.”
The NAWCAD WOLF team was joined by members of Naval Test Wing Atlantic ATC&LS Test Branch, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 to complete the at-sea portion of the certification.
The ATC&LS Test Branch is the certification authority for all U.S. ships, and in this case for the U.S.-owned JPALS installed aboard the British aircraft carrier, while also supporting certification recommendations for FMS installed systems.
The success of the installation and certification of the JPALS and SPN-41B systems aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to the close collaboration between PMA-213, NAWCAD WOLF, VMFA-211 and their U.K. counterparts, Watkins said.