"Managed Chaos"

"Managed chaos" - better not say about the deck of the aircraft carrier during the flight. Journalists Frank Koenders and Jost van der Burgt conducted a flight shift on the deck (or roof) of the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, along with the personnel of the V-2 division, performing perhaps the most dangerous job among the deck crew.




The aviation component of an aircraft carrier deck team is represented by five divisions (from V-1 to V-5), each of which is responsible for performing well-defined tasks. The people of the V-2 division are engaged in servicing catapults and aerofinishers. The officer of the catapult on the slang is referred to as “shooter”, shooting. According to the state, the team of the US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier consists of seven "firing", they do not belong to the aviation squadrons, but to the crew of the ship. "Shooting" officer of the aircraft carrier "Dwight D. Eisenhower" Lieutenant John Kerr performs his second long-range cruise. His first "trip" lasted two months, the second began in May 2010 of Kerr - the "age" officer - he was 32 of the year, called up as an officer of the US Navy reserve from Rennes State University, then underwent a flight officer training course in Pensacola. Next - training for the navigator of the Orion P-3 patrol aircraft at the Ren-Dolph airbase, pcs. Texas, and finally completed the course as a member of the Orion crew in the VP-30 patrol squadron. At the end of his service life at VP-30, Kerr decided to pursue a career in the Navy: “I dreamed of working on the deck of an aircraft carrier and chose the specialty“ shooting ”because I loved shooting since childhood.”

Most of the "gunners" had previously been sea pilots or were on the flight crews of naval aircraft. As a rule, these people become "shooting" voluntarily. All “shooters” are trained at the USS Lakehurst airbase. Within a month, future officers of the V-2 divisions are studying the materiel, features of its operation and the rules for giving signals. Most of the training is conducted at a land aerodrome using simulators. The course ends with an internship on an aircraft carrier under the guidance of experienced officers. “During my first“ shooting, ”I watched the work of a qualified officer. I was rather a puppet than a "shooter"! The elder gunman literally took over my hands like an experienced puppeteer, ”recalls Lieutenant Kerr.



Lieutenant Kerr considers the ejection start procedure to be extremely complex, nothing like that anymore. On the bridge of the aircraft carrier "air boss" (with a capital letter - Air Boss!) Controls the actions of the calculation of the catapult by means of red, yellow and green lights. A green light means that you are ready to start the ejection start procedure, at which point the shooter must give a signal to be ready to fix the aircraft on the catapult, and the plane will taxi to the catapult track. Then the calculation secures the nose landing gear to the catapult shuttle. Then the shooter commands the pilot to start the engines. The pilot and the "shooting" inspect the deck for objects that could prevent the start.

"Shooting" is personally responsible for the safety of the take-off of each aircraft. He determines the task of each member of the calculation in the process of preparing and executing the ejection start, controls its implementation. Information about the take-off mass of the aircraft calculation receives from the pilot. Based on data on the type of aircraft
parata and its take-off mass, taking into account the corrections for wind, air density and the length of the upper stage, the installation data for the catapult are calculated. After entering the data, checking the correctness of the installation and mounting of the aircraft, the absence of foreign objects on the deck in the launch area, the command is given to take the aircraft off the aircraft carrier.

"Managed Chaos"

The VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers” squadron is armed with F / A-18F Super Hornet fighter-bombers.


Shooting - the working day is not normalized!


Two methods of ejection start are used: from the edge of the deck and below the deck. In the first case, the shooter is kneeling directly on the deck, in the second, he is in a small room, the transparent “roof” of which somewhat rises above the flight deck. Usually the method "below the deck" is used in bad weather. “However, I prefer“ below the deck ”and in fine weather - there is an air conditioner below the deck!” Said Kerr.

"Shooting", in addition to the management of catapult launches, are involved in the performance of other tasks: they perform the duties of an assistant senior aviation officer (Boss), an aerofinisher officer, and a helicopter flight control officer. Shooting and leaders of the movement of aircraft on the deck while working dressed in yellow vests. Shooting - always officers, while the movement of aircraft on the deck led by foremen. Riggers in blue vests are responsible for securing and detaching the aircraft on the deck and precise installation of aircraft on the lines of catapults.

The deck crew in their work uses various methods and types of communication, but most often - the radio. The entire personnel of the deck team has portable radios. Radio is used to negotiate team members among themselves and to communicate with higher managers. At the same time, radio communication is often hampered due to strong noise, especially when taking off and landing "loud" aircraft, like EA-6В, so you have to resort to light signaling or gestures, changing the position of the head and body. So that a gesture or a change in posture does not look random, a person who gives such signals fixes his posture for some time. Signal gestures and postures are different day and night. At night, light signals are applied on a much larger scale.

Perhaps the first question asked by an outsider is a question about possible accidents and malfunctions. For example, what happens if a catapult fails just before the start? In this case, an electronically firing disarms the catapult and disconnects the aircraft from the catapult shuttle. A signal about the termination of the take-off procedure is fired by the shooter with his hands crossed over his head after pressing the button to turn off the catapult. The reason for the termination of the takeoff procedure can also serve as aircraft malfunction. The work of the shooters is often complicated by bad weather, especially by the strong wind, due to which in some cases it is necessary to interrupt the preparation for takeoff.


The combination of heat and strong winds characteristic of the Arabian sea keeps the shooters in constant tension.

The authors of the article are grateful to the lieutenants John Kerr, Matthew Allen and John Feig.

Alexander Golts

"Eisenhower" in combat service

Aircraft 7 th carrier-based wing, which is based on the aircraft carrier "Dwight D. Eichenhower", fly over the southern part of Afghanistan in the interests of the forces of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Air wing has 61 aircraft, per day is performed before 70 departures. The wing consists of VFA-143 “Pukimg Dog”, MAF-83 “Rampagers”, VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers”, VFA-131 “Wildcats” squadrons, helicopter anti-submarine squadron HS-5 “Night Dippers in-off-campaigns, non-launch campaigns” -he-off-campaigns, non-flying-rifles, H-140 “Wildcats”; -121 “Patriots”, VAW-40 “Blue Tails” AFDL squadron and VRC-1200 “Rawhides” transport squadron. The number of wing is 25 people. The aircraft carrier Eisenhower arrived in the Gulf of Oman 2010 in January XNUMX g, replacing the aircraft carrier Nimitz.



The first combat sorties from the Eisenhaura as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the crews of the 7 aircraft flew the 28 of January. "Eisenhower", or as it is commonly called "Ike" was in the Arabian Sea until July, the rotation of the US Navy carrier groups in the region takes place every four to six months. In total, more than 2600 sorties were flown during the ship’s time in the Gulf of Oman, mainly to support the coalition ground forces in Afghanistan. Up to 30,% of daily ground strikes on land targets were carried out by crews of the 7 air wing. The most frequently used laser-guided 500-pound CAB GNU-12 Paveway II, 500-pound CAB GBU-28 JDAM with GPS correction.

Aircraft AIM-9L / M / X "Sidewinder" airborne for self-defense in all combat sorties. A typical sortie occupied the 6-7 hours. Routes passed through the airspace of Pakistan. Over the territory of Afghanistan, the planes went into the waiting area ~ strikes were delivered “on call” from the airborne duty position. In each flight, several refueling operations were carried out from French and British tanker aircraft. "Work" was carried out mainly in the daytime. During the period when the Eisenhower was located in the Arabian Sea, reconnaissance aircraft of the Iranian Air Force flew to the aircraft carrier several times.

Sunrise over the Arab Sea. The planes of the 7 th carrier-wing wing are ready to fight for the triumph of the values ​​of the Free World in Afghanistan: “You do not have Democracy? It will be soon! ”
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