Program Executive Office (PEO) Aircraft Carriers has announced the certification of a fifth Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) aboard USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) at its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, US.

During its deployment at sea for 32 days, the ship attained a flight deck certification and conducted additional catapult launches and arrested landings.

The vessel achieved a milestone of total number of aircraft launches to more than 2,300.

Aircraft Carriers programme executive officer Rear Admiral James Downey said: “In just the last few weeks, we’ve seen an increase in the velocity of flight deck operations and new system certifications aboard Gerald R Ford that’s beyond impressive.

“Certifying Lower Stage Weapons Elevator 5 [LSWE 5] is extraordinarily significant, in that we now have the capability to move ordnance from the aft magazine complex deep in the ship through the carrier to the flight deck with a speed and agility that has never been seen before on any warship in any fleet.”

During the ship’s Post Delivery Test and Trials (PDT&T) phase of operations, the certification enables CVN 78’s crew to elevate combat system and flight deck training.

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The AWE will be operated at sea during the ship’s next operation in May to ensure improved operations in its environment. It will train additional crew members and validate training and maintenance procedures.

Additionally, the AWEs enhance CVN 78’s speed, carrying capability and make operations sustainable and reliable. They will also reduce manning, maintenance and total ownership costs of the carrier.

To date, AWEs aboard CVN 78 have logged a total of more than 8,000 cycles.

The Lower Stage Weapons Elevator 1 is on track to be certified and delivered to the crew in the fourth quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2020. The remaining five elevators have been scheduled to be certified in the third quarter of FY21.

To prepare the crew, sailors from Gerald R Ford’s Weapons Department will launch web-based instructor training using the Carrier-Advanced Reconfigurable Training System (C-ARTS).

Post-delivery, CVN 78 will deploy 12 sailors to participate in more than 16 hours of web-based training at the C-ARTS facility, guided by Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding Division.