WASHINGTON, March 23 (UPI) -- Delivery to the U.S. Navy of the next-generation aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford could be delayed because a design flaw in an aircraft recovery system.
Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command said the flaw in General Atomic's advanced arresting gear, or AAG, has set system testing at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, N.J., back two years.
"We are about two years behind where we should be up at Lakehurst in terms of having the systems installed and testing it with real aircraft," said Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers Rear Adm. Tom Moore.
"Right now my major concern on Ford is AAG. I have to get equipment installed. It's now all arrived at the shipyard. The shipyard is installing the equipment now and concurrently with that I have to get Lakehurst to start testing the upgraded system."
The Navy said the flaw was found in the AAG's water twister, a complex paddle wheel that is designed to absorb 70 percent of the force when the tailhook of a landing aircraft pulls against an arresting wire to stop moving. Moore said the paddle wheel was under-designed.
A newly repaired AAG is performing jet sled tests now while a separate upgraded version is being installed on Ford.
"We're a lot more confident the system as it's currently built will work but it's important that Lakehurst gets through the jet car test site and we go to a second phase called runway assisted landing system — that's where they land real aircraft," Moore said.
"If Lakehurst uncovers something on the system that has to be fixed, the risk I'm taking is I'm installing it and then I have to go back and fix something that's already installed, it's more challenging.
"Really at this point, I don't have a choice," he said.
The Ford is scheduled for delivery at the end of March 2016.