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US Navy CNO touts reliable Ford systems, calls for additional study of light carrier

As aircraft launching-and-recovery systems prove their operational reliability aboard the US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), the US Navy (USN) is looking to devote further analysis to the idea of developing a smaller “light carrier”, Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations (CNO), said on 13 May the virtual McAleese and Associates FY 2022 Defense Programs conference.

Ford had has executed 8,000 aircraft launches and recoveries “off the deck of the carrier with a high degree of reliability with the arresting gear, as well as the catapult system”, Adm Gilday told conference attendees.

The growing number of launches and recoveries has begun to dampen the criticism in the Pentagon and Congressional committee rooms about reliability issues of the new catapult and arresting gear systems, which replaced traditional hydraulic components with electromagnetic and other technologically advanced equipment.

Adm Gilday also underscored the importance of the operational success for the new systems aboard a carrier that is has yet to go through shock trials, which is slated for the coming months.

“That [level of operation] is not insignificant for a carrier that has not yet deployed,” the CNO commented.

Although not officially deployed, Ford still has been contributing to the fleet, Adm Gilday pointed out. “It has spent half of the past year at sea,” he said.

During that time, he noted, Ford served as the qualification carrier for naval pilots for carrier operations.

The ship is now being prepared for its shock trial, he added, after which Ford will undergo a short maintenance availability. “My goal is to get [ Ford ] out to see in [20]22, doing something substantive,” the CNO said.

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