The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) underway on its own power for the first time while leaving Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia (USA), on April 8, 2017. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ridge Leoni)

Against a blistering 56 mph wind, an F/A-18F Super Hornet laden with fuel roared off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and into the brilliant January sky.

No glitches.

Chalk up another step forward for America's newest and most expensive warship.

The Ford has been at sea since Jan. 16, accompanied by Navy test pilots flying a variety of aircraft. They're taking off and landing on the ship's 5 acre flight deck, taking notes and gathering data that will prove valuable for generations of pilots to come.

The Navy calls it aircraft compatibility testing, and the process marks an important new chapter for a first-in-class ship that has seen its share of challenges.

"We're establishing the launch and recovery capabilities for the history of this class, which is pretty amazing," said Capt. J.J. "Yank" Cummings, the Ford's commanding officer. "The crew is extremely proud, and they recognize the historic context of this."

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The USS Harry S. Truman and ships assigned to its carrier trike group in the Atlantic Ocean during an exercise, February 16, 2018. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Swofford)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

The Pentagon has tried twice in the past year to push a plan that would retire the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman decades early and cut its air wing.

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Pre-Commissioning Unit John F. Kennedy reaches another milestone in its construction as its dry dock area is flooded three months ahead of its slated production schedule, October 29, 2019. (U.S. Navy/Mass Comm Specialist 3rd Class Adam Ferrero)

The official seal for the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy has been unveiled, and at first glance the design is clean and simple.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

When Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer pitched sending an aircraft carrier into early retirement, he had an idea for how to answer the call for flattops around the world: an amphibious assault ship loaded up with F-35B Joint Strike Fighter jets.

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Navy officials enlisted the help of executives with the Florida-based Carnival Cruise Line, the largest cruise company in the world, to identify solutions for the ongoing maintenance issues that have stranded a majority of the service's aircraft carriers in non-deployable status, Business Insider reports.

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As Rep. Elaine Luria sees it, this week's decision to extend the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln speaks to a more serious problem with the aircraft carrier fleet, and the evidence is front and center in Hampton Roads.

The Lincoln will remain deployed for an unspecified time because repairs are taking longer than expected on the USS Harry S. Truman, the carrier assigned to replace it.

But at the moment, not one of the Navy's six East Coast carriers — either at Naval Station Norfolk or Newport News Shipbuilding — are close to combat-ready, Luria said in a House Armed Services hearing this week.

So when a single carrier is sidelined longer than expected, it can become a problem.

In an exchange with Navy leaders, the Virginia Beach Democrat said: "So the taxpayers have made a good investment to have six carriers on the East Coast, plus I understand one on the West Coast — seven of our 11 carriers — in a non-deployable status, and we're having to extend the Lincoln on deployment because of one emergent casualty on one carrier? That's where you desire to be?"

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