As one of FEC’s signature weapons handling systems, the Advanced Weapons Elevator (AWE) was developed collaboratively working with MagneMotion and key stakeholders from Newport News Shipbuilding and NAVSEA. Originating as a concept during the early phases of new aircraft carrier design studies intending to replace the Nimitz class carriers, the FEC Team was eventually down-selected to design and manufacture the AWE hoisting components for the CVN 78 Ford Class.
The main goal of the new weapons elevator was to improve the rate of weapons movement on the ship from magazines to the topside and visa-versa, commonly referred to as strike-up and strike-down. FEC’s AWE consists of a ropeless elevator system utilizing linear synchronous motors (LSM), advanced control systems, wireless technology, as well as many other innovative subsystems. The AWE Lead Unit endured extreme qualification trials including shock, vibration, and EMI tests along with extensive load and reliability testing (e.g., static, dynamic, etc.). Ultimately, the AWE system successfully achieved the 24,000 pound rated load capacity and 150 feet per minute speed requirement exceeding the legacy system capacity and speed by over 200% and 150%, respectively.
Today the AWE Lead Unit still operates in FEC’s Elevator Test Facility, a 40 foot structure that houses the full scale AWE system capable of 32 feet of vertical travel. Meanwhile full production of all AWE system components is well underway for CVN 78 and CVN 79.
Please see below for a video of FEC on PBS NOVA featuring the AWE System.