C4iSR: Maritime

USN reports further progress on Ford Advanced Weapons Elevators

27 January 2020

Another three Advanced Weapons Elevators (AWEs) are working and being rigorously tested aboard aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), said Rear Admiral James Downey, USN programme executive officer for carriers.

Two of those elevators are expected to be certified by the second or third quarter of this year, Rear Adm Downey said on 22 January during a briefing inside Ford 's utility AWE as the ship conducted Aircraft Compatibility Testing (ACT) in the Atlantic Ocean off the US East Coast.

Another, lower-stage elevator 5, is expected to be certified within the "next few months," he said. It is the elevator closest to being turned over next.

Turnover of the three AWEs would give the Ford crew seven of 11 certified elevators.

"It will give us magazine access forward and aft," Rear Adm Downey said.

All of the upper stage elevators - 1, 2, 3 and the utility elevator - have been certified and turned over to the ship.

All of the work is being done on the lower-stage elevators. Access to the lower stage elevators gives the ship the complete ability to get ordnance from the lower magazines all the way to the flight deck.

As other US Navy officials have said, Rear Adm Downey noted work is not a question of overcoming technical challenges. "It's principally finishing the construction."

He explained, "The spaces are being finished." The spaces, he said, were not finished to ensure they "met the fit-up requirements" for door and hatches.

"There's no rope or cables," he added. "There's magnet motors in four corners. It's wireless, as the motors go up, as it [the elevator] hits each platform level, as the elevators top to close doors and hatches behind it, the motors recharge. That design allows us to meet survivability requirements - [the AWEs] can seal off at each level.

Four upper-stage Advanced Weapons Elevators aboard aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) have been certified. (Jane's/Michael Fabey)Four upper-stage Advanced Weapons Elevators aboard aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) have been certified. (Jane's/Michael Fabey)

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