The US Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, has commenced its second round of CQs for Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) pilots, with a healthy and mission-focused crew, at a time when a number of US carriers are confined to port due to COVID-19.
Ford, is operating at-sea at the same time as four other US aircraft carriers, is conducting its fourth independent steaming event (ISE) since commencing an 18-month Post Delivery Test and Trials (PDT&T) phase of operations in November 2019.
While underway Ford will conduct FRS CQ with pilots from Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 117 and VAW-120, and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106.
Commanding Officer Captain J.J. Cummings explained, “Our crew is tough and has adapted quickly to the acute changes we’ve made to our operating procedures and day-to-day life onboard. Their resiliency, their grit allows us to get underway and accomplish the mission.”
The 'Wallbangers' of VAW-117 are set to mark a milestone while aboard Ford as they complete CQ requirements to transition from the E-2C Hawkeye to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
VAW-117’s transition will take the Navy past the 50 per cent point, making the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye the new baseline platform for the community.
"Getting underway knowing that our crew will be generating readiness for the fleet, along with the four other carriers at sea, is extremely rewarding. 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," CAPT Cummings explained.
Lieutenant Commander Jeremiah Caldwell, a pilot assigned to VAW-117, added, “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. 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.”
With two days of CQ complete, Ford has completed 237 catapult launches and 244 Advanced Arresting Gear landings, meeting all daily objectives.
Following Super Hornet FRS CQ, Ford will begin CQ for Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) student naval aviators and instructor pilots, continuing critical training to our aviators to execute fleet missions from and at sea.