General Atomics [GA] said Tuesday it and the U.S. Navy have finished performance testing for the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for the C-2A Greyhound, E-2C+ Hawkeye, and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Navy aircraft, taking a step in allowing propeller aircraft to land on the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78).

This performance testing occurred in the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

An E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is arrested during testing at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. (Photo: U.S. Navy)
An E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is arrested during testing at the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

These tests are needed to support the Navy developing a propeller Aircraft Recovery Bulletin (ARB), which itself is a prerequisite to have arrested landing of propeller aircraft on the new aircraft carrier.

C-2A Greyhounds carry supplies, mail, and passengers to and from carriers while the E-2C+ and E-2Ds are carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning radar aircraft.

The new AAG is replacing the older MK 7 hydraulic arresting gear in use on the Nimitz-class carriers. The new turbo-electric system is designed to require less maintenance and manpower to operate, recover current and future naval aircraft, and allow for higher sortie rates while consuming less energy. The new carriers will also feature the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch Systems (EMALS), which aims for similar benefits in launching aircraft.

AAG and EMALS are both in production for installation on the future Ford-class carriers John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and Enterprise (CVN-80).

The AAG system has tested over 800 successful roll-in and fly-in aircraft arrestments at RALS so far as well as hundreds of F/A-18E/F Super Hornet at-sea recoveries on board CVN-78 during its Post Shakedown Availability (PSA).

The first E-2C Hawkeye arrestments with the AAG occurred at RALS in early June (Defense Daily, June 22).

“We continue to stress the system, analyze results, and tune the system to ensure maximum performance. We are on target to be ready for fleet operations when CVN-78 completes its PSA in 2019,” Dean Key, senior director of EMALS/AAG programs at General Atomics, said in a statement.

“We are pleased with AAG’s performance, and remain focused on optimizing the system’s capabilities to meet the daily operations and mission requirements for CVN-78 and the next two Ford-class carriers currently under construction,” he added.

Rolf Ziesing, vice president of programs at General Atomics-Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS), explained the AAG system is designed to arrest and help a broad range of aircraft land on Ford—class carriers while providing “higher reliability and safety margins.”

“As each aircraft is brought in for testing, AAG continues to perform reliably, arrestment after arrestment. The successful turboprop arrestments at RALS mark another significant milestone that moves the Navy closer to initiating recovery testing for these aircraft aboard CVN 78,” Ziesing said.

The AAG has experienced several problems over its development including technical glitches, software delays, and cost overruns. Regardless, in January the Navy reiterated it will keep the AAG for carriers after CVN-78 (Defense Daily, Jan. 24).