The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) has been undergoing a second round of carrier qualifications (CQs) for Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) pilots as it gets closer to joining the fleet.
The Ford held its fourth independent streaming event (ISE) since commencing an 18-month post-delivery test and trials phase of operations back in November, the Navy said in a statement.
Pilots from Airborne Command and Control Squadron will conduct FRS CQ during this period.
“Getting underway knowing that our crew will be generating readiness for the fleet, along with the four other carriers at sea, is extremely rewarding,” Commanding Officer Capt. J.J Cummings said in the statement. “We are also proud that several of these aviators who carrier qualify on our ship will be heading over the horizon soon to join deployed carriers throughout the world.”
The training involves E-2C Hawkeye and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.
“The E-2D is our latest and greatest aircraft that has a lot of good equipment and a really good radar that’s going to allow us to see our enemies at distances that we really haven’t seen before,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeremiah Caldwell, a pilot assigned to VAW-117. “The training process for us is about three years just to get to the fleet, so we are here aboard Ford training fleet aviators that are making the transition from the Charlie to the Delta.”
To date, the Ford has completed 237 catapult launches and 244 Advanced Arrested Gear landings.
The ship still has a way to go before it is operational. The current planned initial operational capability (IOC) is set for 2024, although back in October then-Navy Secretary Richard Spencer reportedly predicted that the carrier would enter the fleet much sooner than that.
The Ford is the first in the latest class of carrier that will serve as the successor to the Nimitz-class carriers that currently makes up the nation’s carrier fleet.
MAIN PHOTO: ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 10, 2020) An E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, assigned to the “Greyhawks” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120, prepares to land on USS Gerald R.Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck during flight operations. Ford is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman 3rd Class Zachary Melvin/Released)