AAG Remains Navy’s Choice for Next-Generation Recovery System
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — On the heels of continued progress of the Advanced Arresting Gear’s (AAG’s) test program, to include completion of the 350th trap of an F/A-18E Super Hornet in December, senior Navy officials decided to continue with AAG as its choice of recovery system aboard the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), Naval Air Systems Command announced in an Jan. 23 release.
The determination to continue with AAG was the outcome of a review by an AAG Resource Requirements Review Board in November. The board was co-chaired by Sean Stackley, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, and Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations. The board also considered an option to revert to the legacy recovery system, Mk-7. An independent review team chartered by Frank Kendall, undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, came to the same conclusion and recommended continuation of AAG on Ford-class aircraft carriers.
“AAG works,” said Capt. Steve Tedford, Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment program manager, whose team manages the recovery system program. “The progress of AAG testing this past year has been significant and has demonstrated the system’s ability to meet Navy requirements. The team overcame many challenges to get the system to this point and ensure its readiness to support CVN 78 and future Ford-class ships.”
“It has been a difficult challenge, but getting the system into test to verify its readiness to meet Navy requirements has been the team’s focus this past year,” said Rear Adm. Mike Moran, program executive officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs, who oversees PMA-251 program office. “The government and contractor team made the necessary hardware changes and implemented a build-test-fix software methodology that has incrementally improved the performance of the system, which will be ready to trap the first F/A-18 Super Hornet on Ford later this year.
“There is much left to be done to qualify the entire air wing for deployed operations, but this team is on the right track and focused on delivering the performance the Navy requires,” Moran added.
AAG has been the focus of much scrutiny in recent years, after encountering delays in developmental testing and subsequent redesign efforts of the water twister, one of the system’s major components. With the upgraded hardware in place, the program has forged forward with an extensive land-based test program. As of December, more than 1,400 dead-load arrestments and 351 test arrestments of the Super Hornet, the first aircraft type/model/series to undergo test on the system, have been completed. Simultaneously, the system is undergoing commissioning testing aboard CVN 78.
“There is still a lot of work ahead, but we have the right team in place to get AAG and all of the benefits that come with it delivered to support the warfighters of today and the future,” Tedford said.
Upon completion of AAG performance testing with the Super Hornet, the team began generating the first Aircraft Recovery Bulletin to support pending Aircraft Compatibility Testing on board CVN 78, where a number of aircraft launch and recovery equipment systems, including the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, will be used.
The AAG team continues multisite test operations with the next type/model/series, the E-2/C-2 platform, and the program office proceeds with the necessary acquisition activities to ready the system for installation aboard CVN 79 and the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80).