HII begins topside testing of CVN-79 launching system

By Abby Shepherd / February 21, 2024 at 3:27 PM

Following the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System’s reliability challenges on the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), HII’s Newport News shipbuilding division announced Wednesday it successfully began topside testing the launch system on the John F. Kennedy (CVN-79).

“As we make sustained progress in the construction, testing and turnover of John F. Kennedy, reaching the dead load testing phase is a visual demonstration of how far we’ve come,” vice president of the CVN-79 new construction aircraft carrier program Lucas Hicks said in a statement.

In dead load testing, structures weighing up to 80,000 pounds -- meant to simulate aircraft weight -- are launched off the carrier’s bow.

“The first dead-load launch off the flight deck is a historic moment for [pre-commissioning unit] John F. Kennedy, and a testament to the power of great teamwork between our JFK crew, HII team, and [Naval Air Systems Command] engineers,” CVN-79 commanding officer Capt. Colin Day said in a statement. “I’m particularly proud of our Air Department and the hard-working Aviation Boatswain Mates who worked tirelessly alongside the engineering and testing teams to get us to this critical moment.”

Meanwhile, CVN-78 encountered problems with EMALS reliability in the past year, as noted in this month’s director of operational test and evaluation report.

Despite upgrades to hardware and software, “reliability has not appreciably changed from prior years,” according to the report. To help, NAVAIR implemented a software update and upgraded sensors before CVN-78 was deployed.

Additionally, DOT&E noted that delivery of CVN-79 is scheduled for late fiscal year 2025 -- previously meant for FY-24. The delay is due to the Navy “moving some work from CVN-79’s post-delivery Post Shakedown Availability to before delivery, to mitigate schedule risk to its first deployment,” the report said.