F/A-18E catches wire on Advanced Arresting Gear for first time
Richard Scott, London – IHS Jane’s Navy International
An F/A-18E Super Hornet from Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron 23 (VX-23) made a first successful arrestment using the US Navy’s Advanced Arresting Gear at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, on 31 March. Source: NAVAIR
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- F/A-18E makes first AAG arrestment at Lakehurst test site
- The AAG is already installed aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R Ford (CVN 78)
An F/A-18E Super Hornet from Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron 23 (VX-23) has made a first successful arrestment using the US Navy’s (USN’s) new Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).
The test, conducted on 31 March, used the land-based AAG system installed at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in Lakehurst, New Jersey. RALS testing is a critical activity for proving the AAG for the new CVN-78 Ford-class aircraft carrier programme.
Developed by General Atomics in conjunction with the USN, the AAG is a new-generation turbo-electric arrestor system, consisting of energy absorbers, power conditioning equipment and digital controls, designed to deliver a number of benefits over the current Mk 7 Mod 3 and Mod 4 arrestor gear systems. These include improved reliability and safety margins, reduced manning and total ownership cost. Additionally, the AAG is designed to allow potential arrestment of a broader range of aircraft, from the lightest unmanned aerial vehicles to the heaviest manned fighters.
The AAG is already installed aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R Ford (CVN 78), and is scheduled for installation on the future John F Kennedy (CVN 79), which is currently in build. However, the results of initial land-based testing in 2013 led to the redesign of the water twister, injecting delay into the programme.
In his latest annual report to Congress, Dr J Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s independent director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), stated that “AAG’s reliability is uncertain”. According to Dr Gilmore, “The Program Office redesigned major components that did not meet system specifications during land-based testing [and] last provided reliability data in December 2013 [that] estimated that AAG had approximately 20 mean cycles between operational mission failure (MCBOMF) in the shipboard configuration, where a cycle represents the recovery of one aircraft.