The US Navy has successfully completed the first launch of a fighter jet using the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System.
December 21: The US Navy has successfully completed the first launch of a fighter jet using the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) technology.
The tests were undertaken at the Naval Air Systems Command test site at Lakehurst in New Jersey with an F/A-18E Super Hornet from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23). EMALS is intended to replace steam catapults on aircraft carriers and is the preferred system for the UK’s new Queen Elizabeth class.
“This is a tremendous achievement not just for the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) team, but for the entire Navy,” said Captain James Donnelly, ALRE programme manager. “The EMALS launch on December 18 demonstrates an evolution in carrier flight deck operations using advanced computer control, system monitoring and automation for tomorrow’s carrier air wings.” The first US Navy vessel designed with EMALS in mind is the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).
“I thought the launch went great,” said Lt Daniel Radocaj, the test pilot who made the first EMALS manned launch. “I got excited once I was on the catapult but I went through the same procedures as on a steam catapult. The catapult stroke felt similar to a steam catapult and EMALS met all of the expectations I had.”
EMALS will deliver higher launch energy capacity as well as substantial improvements in system weight, maintenance, increased efficiency, and more accurate end-speed control than existing steam designs. It also allows for a smoother acceleration at both high and low speeds.
The test programme will expand to aircraft launches with the T-45 and C-2 aircraft next year.