Development of the new advanced arresting gear (AAG) for the U.S. Navy’s Gerald R. Ford CVN 78-class aircraft carrier has hit a few snags and delays, the Navy said, but delivery of systems to the carrier’s shipyard should not delay the ship.
“Delays during the hardware installation, system check-out and commissioning of the Jet Car Track Site (JCTS) caused key program test completion dates to move beyond the previously approved baseline,” Rob Koon, a spokesman for the Naval Air Systems Command, wrote in an email.
“The AAG program has adjusted several delivery dates to the shipyard based on the redesign of the water twister components,” Koon added. “However, these delays have not impacted the CVN 78’s scheduled delivery.” The water twister is a device that absorbs energy by circulating water around an enclosed loop, according to information provided by General Atomics, prime contractor to develop the system.
Overall spending on the AAG program jumped this year by about 40 percent, from $62.7 million to $101.7 million, according to the Navy.
The additional $39 million, Koon wrote, was “a result of funding needed due to delays during the hardware installation, initial system check-out and commissioning of the JCTS as well as providing funding for future test execution.”
Nancy Hitchcox, a spokeswoman for General Atomics (GA), pointed out the production contract for the AAG is on a firm fixed-price basis, “so there won’t be any production price increases to the Navy.”
The AAG will replace the Mark 7 hydraulic system in use aboard all other U.S. aircraft carriers. The AAG’s electric motor-based system, according to GA, replaces the mechanical hydraulic ram of the current system with energy-absorbing water turbines which, coupled with a large induction motor, should provide better control of the arresting forces.
GA claims the new system will handle a broader range of aircraft, reduce manning and maintenance, and feature higher reliability and safety margins.
So far, Koon wrote, 138 dead-load recoveries have been conducted at the JCTS at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
“System performance to date has correlated well with our models,” Koon wrote. “As in any test program, we’ve found things that we’ve had to address via design changes, and we are currently redesigning the water twister to ensure that it meets dynamic loads experienced during heavy aircraft arrestments. Dead-load testing will resume early this summer.”
The dead-load weights, he said, represented an F/A-18 C/D Hornet, F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler, E-2 C/D Hawkeye, T-45C Goshawk and UAVs.
The AAG program, he added, “is scheduled to complete performance testing in 2013 and Runway Aircraft Landing Site testing in 2014.”
The first AAG components were delivered to Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, builders of the Ford, this spring, Koon added.
“The shipbuilder is currently developing revised construction plans to accommodate water twister delivery in March 2013,” he wrote.