The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) team successfully executed the system’s first exploratory aircraft barricade arrestment Feb. 28 at the Jet Car Track Site (JCTS) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
During the test, a stricken E-2C+ Hawkeye was launched into an emergency barricade to begin qualifying AAG in the barricade configuration for use aboard Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers.
The Navy last conducted such a test more than 23 years ago.
The team hit another milestone April 17 with the first barricade arrestment of an F/A-18E Super Hornet, which weighed about 44,000 pounds and hit the barricade traveling at more than 112 knots.
With the barricade net attached to the AAG system via extension pendants and held up by stanchions, these tests replicated the approach of an aircraft for an arrestment aboard the carrier’s flight deck. The tests allowed the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) team to ensure effectiveness of the emergency system and establish settings specific to each type/model/series in the carrier air wing.
“There was a great deal of preparation and coordination involved to conduct the barricade testing and our busy team was able to pull it all together,” said Don Fonner, AAG test and evaluation lead. “While the barricade is only for emergency use when a normal arrestment cannot be made, it’s still critical that AAG in the barricade configuration be qualified.”
The AAG team will conduct a half dozen more such tests in the coming months as they continue to work through a comprehensive test plan to support the revolutionary new system at the two land-based test sites in New Jersey—JCTS and the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS)—and aboard USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). No at-sea barricade tests using the AAG installed aboard Ford are planned, although ship personnel as part of their standard training routinely practice rigging barricades for emergency situations.
“We are pleased that AAG performed well in these first barricade test events and the team should be proud of this and all the milestones we’ve reached as we deliver this revolutionary new technology to the fleet,” said Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office Program Manager Capt. Ken Sterbenz.
To date, the AAG system installed at JCTS has conducted more than 2,400 successful dead-load arrestments, with engagement speeds exceeding 155 knots—or more than 178 miles per hour—and at weights of more than 78,000 pounds. At the RALS, the AAG system has successfully completed more than 1,400 manned aircraft traps, including all fleet TMS aircraft. Meanwhile, the AAG installed aboard Ford has completed 747 manned aircraft arrestments.