Ford completes combat systems ship's qualification trials

By Aidan Quigley / April 26, 2021 at 11:37 AM

The aircraft carrier Gerald Ford (CVN-78) completed its Combat Systems Ship’s Qualification Trials earlier this month as the carrier moves toward full ship shock trials this summer, the Navy announced Friday.

The ship completed the trials on April 17 after finishing the final phase, during which the carrier faced off against rocket-propelled drones that moved faster than 600 miles per hour, towed drone units that simulate rockets and high-speed maneuvering surface targets, the Navy said in a press release.

The ship's crew used rolling airframe missile launchers to fire RIM-116 missiles, NATO launchers to fire Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles and its MK-15 Phalanx Close-In Weapon System to fire armor-piercing tungsten bullets, the Navy said.

The missiles successfully engaged and took out their targets, Larry Daugherty, the ship's CSSQT project officer, said in the press release.

"The crew crushed it, firing off four missiles [two RIM-116 and two ESSM], and all of them were conducted with precision control by combat direction center watch teams, they executed perfectly," Daugherty said. "All command-and-control decisions were made correctly, and the [systems] were engaged when they were supposed to be engaged and everything went out on time."

The conclusion of Combat Systems Ship's Qualification Trials marks the end of the Ford’s post-delivery test and trials phase, the Navy said.

Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, the Navy's director of air warfare, said last month that seven of the Ford’s 11 Advanced Weapons Elevators have been completed, and a total of 90% of the remaining work on the Ford elevators has been completed.

Harris said he is excited to see Ford deployed in 2022.

"All of those things that we want on Ford are coming together nicely," Harris said.