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Pentagon DOT&E report notes carrier Ford milestones and need for further testing

A Pentagon report cites issues with major systems on the carrier USS Gerald R Ford , including the ship's launch equipment and jet blast deflectors. (Michael Fabey)

The US Navy (USN) aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) has reached important milestones in fiscal year (FY) 2022, but still needs to undergo further testing to prove out critical systems and equipment, according to the Pentagon Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E).

“In FY [20]22, USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) completed its first Planned Incremental Availability (PIA), a six-month maintenance period, conducted 84 days underway, transitioned from developmental test to integrated test to IOT&E [Initial Operational Test and Evaluation] and continued operationally representative integration with its carrier airwing,” the DOT&E said in its annual FY 2022 report, released on 19 January.

“Reliability challenges with systems critical for flight operations – including catapults, arresting gear, jet blast deflectors (JBDs), and radar – continue to pose the most risk to CVN 78 demonstrating operational effectiveness and suitability in IOT&E, which is scheduled to last through 4[fourth]Q[quarter]FY [20]24.”

The DOT&E reported, “Executing planned sortie generation and self-defence tests will be crucial to evaluating the ship's effectiveness and survivability, along with accrediting high-fidelity operational and Probability of Raid Annihilation (PRA) models, essential for evaluating key performance parameters and life-of-class sustainment.”

The CVN 78 Test and Evaluation Master Plan (TEMP) will be updated by the first quarter of FY 2024 torefine the self-defence test strategy and resourcing to test the self-defence capability for next carrier, John F Kennedy (CVN 79), the DOT&E reported. The CVN 78 test plan is scheduled to be updated before the second phase of IOT&E, which is planned to begin in the second quarter of FY 2024.

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