Ford completes flight deck certification (1711 days after commissioning)

“War Party Rocks!!!” A Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) F-18E Rhino of Strike Fighter Squadron 87 (VFA-87), the Golden Warriors, traps aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) during her recent FDC and CATCC. Formed in 1968 to fly A-7s, the Warriors were in combat over Vietnam from the decks of USS Ticonderoga just nine months after they were established. They recently made headlines downing a Syrian Su-22 in 2017, the Superhornet’s first ATA victory.

Class-leading supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78), once she gets all the bugs worked out, will be the most capable flattop that has ever flat-topped. Commissioned on 22 July 2017 after a nearly eight-year build process, the warship that was ordered in 2008 is gearing up for her first real-world deployment later this year and there are signs things are going right.

Chief among these? With famed and historic CVW-8 aboard– which formed in 1943 and sailed for combat aboard USS Intrepid back in WWIIFord completed her Flight Deck Certification (FDC) and Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC) certification on March 29.

Via CVN78’s PAO:

Once out to sea, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, E-2D Hawkeyes, and MH-60S Nighthawks assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 conducted operations to prove the ship’s and crew’s capabilities. To achieve certification, Ford conducted more than 400 day and night catapult launches and trap recoveries. Prior to getting underway, Ford’s air department was evaluated on its ability to respond to flight deck emergencies and firefighting.

“Ford and Carrier Air Wing 8 were meticulous during the whole certification evolution,” said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain Mate (Equipment) Carl Higdon, the air department’s leading chief petty officer. “Every Sailor aboard contributed to our success of the mission. I’m really proud to be a part of this team.”

Following flight deck certification, flight operations continued to keep pilots’ carrier qualifications and proficiency current, demonstrating Ford’s contribution to air wing and fleet readiness through capabilities provided by the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG).

“Flight deck certification is a significant milestone in preparation for our first deployment,” said Capt. Paul Lanzilotta, Ford’s Commanding Officer. “We have more tests and evaluations to complete during our next underway periods, and I have no doubt that our Sailors will rise to the challenge and accomplish the mission.”

Ford will head underway again this month for additional milestone events that will prepare the ship for a scheduled deployment later this year.

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