Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News Shipbuilding division has successfully tested the precision aircraft landing system (PALS) aboard the US Navy's first Ford-class aircraft carrier, Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).
PALS is a radar system that is designed to ensure successful landings on the flight deck by providing final approach and landing guidance to aircraft.
Newport News CVN 78 carrier construction vice-president Rolf Bartschi said: “Aircraft landing precision is at the core of an aircraft carrier’s mission.
“This test programme ensures that the systems are working together as they were designed to work before we take the ship to sea.”
During testing, a special instrumented F-18 Super Hornet flew ten times within 500ft of Gerald R Ford to validate the functionality, alignment and operation of the PALS equipment and its subsystems.
Additionally, Gerald R Ford’s PALS system was upgraded and modified for the aircraft carrier’s island location and other design and technology changes.
The testing of PALS was also supported by dual band radar, which is also a new addition to the Ford class carrier. The PALS technology is also used on Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
In 2008, Newport News was awarded a $5.1bn contract to support the detailed design and construction of the Gerald R Ford aircraft carrier. The US Navy is planning to construct a total of ten Ford-class carriers.
Construction of Gerald R Ford began in 2009 and is slated to be delivered to the US Navy in 2016.
The 1,092ft-long Gerald R Ford is fitted with Raytheon-built evolved Sea Sparrow missiles (ESSM), which will enable the warship to combat high-speed, highly manoeuvrable, anti-ship missiles, and a rolling airframe missile (RAM) close-in weapon system.
Image: Gerald R. Ford on the James River. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cathrine Mae O Campbell.