The Navy may be forced to abandon the Advanced Arresting Gear system for the Ford class carriers after huge cost increases, schedule delays, and continuing technical challenges. As reported by USNI News website (1),
“…SASC [Senate Armed Services Committee] laid out a pattern of cost increases from about a $476 million in costs for research development and acquisition in 2009 for four systems to a 2016 cost estimate of $1.4 billion – about a 130 percent increase when adjusted for inflation.”
A 130% increase – sounds about right for a Navy project!
USNI suggests that the Navy will replace the AAG in subsequent Ford carriers with a traditional arresting system.
“Ultimately, USNI News understands, the goal is to have the planned AAG systems on the ships that follow carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) – John F. Kennedy (CVN-79) and Enterprise(CVN-80) – replaced with a more traditional but enhanced version of the current Mk-7 MOD 3 arresting gear.”
At least the Navy recognizes the problem as evidenced by the following statement.
“Last year Program Executive Officer for the Navy’s carrier program told reporters that the service and General Atomics discovered the water twister – a complex paddlewheel designed to absorb 70 percent of the force of a landing – was under engineered and would be unable to withstand prolonged use without failing.”
“ ‘The Advanced Arresting Gear has become a model for how not to do acquisition of needed technology,’ a senior Navy official told USNI News on Tuesday.”
The issue is not the AAG, per se, but the concurrency of attempting to develop a non-existent technology while also initiating production.
Aside from the excess costs and schedule delays, a larger issue is what to do with the Ford. We can put conventional arresting systems in the subsequent carriers but what do we do with For? If the AAG is installed, it becomes a one-of-a-kind system that will prove difficult or impossible to maintain and eliminates any commonality between Ford and any other carrier in the fleet. If we retrofit a conventional system to Ford, the costs to remove the AAG system, re-engineer a conventional system into place, and actually procure and install it will cause further cost overruns and schedule delays.
This is a classic no-win situation. The Navy’s foolish insistence on concurrent development and production has bit them in the ass once again. You’d think the Navy would learn but they remain incapable of learning lessons.
This is why you don’t begin production that depends on non-existent technology.
The lesson can’t be any simpler or clearer. Even the Navy’s mentally challenged leadership should be able to grasp it by now. But, of course, they won’t.
(1) USNI News website, “Navy May Back Away From Advanced Arresting Gear for Ford Carriers”, Sam LaGrone,
May 24, 2016,