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Navy Has Begun EMALS Testing on Carrier Ford

Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the James River during the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier three for the final stages of construction and testing in November 2013. US Navy photo.

Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) transits the James River during the ship’s launch and transit to Newport News Shipyard pier three for the final stages of construction and testing in November 2013. US Navy photo.

The Navy conducted its first-ever shipboard full-speed catapult shot with the General Atomics Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) earlier this month, the Navy said in a May 15 statement.

An artist's concept of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). General Atomics Image

An artist’s concept of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS). General Atomics Image

EMALS will replace steam catapults on the Ford-class carriers. It is more maintainable, reliable and efficient than the steam system, generates more launch energy and puts less stress on the aircraft by creating a smoother, more linear acceleration, according to the Navy statement.

The recent test shots were called “no-loads,” as nothing was attached to the launching shuttle. The test was meant to demonstrate the integration of the catapult system. In the next phase of testing this summer, the catapults will launch “dead loads” – wheeled steel vessels up to 80,000 pounds that simulate the weight of an aircraft – to verify that the catapult and each of its components are working properly.

“This is a very exciting time for the Navy,” Program Executive Officer for Aircraft Carriers Rear Adm. Tom Moore said in the statement.
“For the first time in over 60 years, we’ve just conducted 22 no-load test shots using electricity instead of steam technology.”

Moore has previously said the dead load testing would take place in June in the James River, near the Newport News Shipbuilding yard in Virginia.

On the other end of the carrier, the Navy has had problems with the GA Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) that is two years behind its testing schedule.

Ford is 90-percent complete and is expected to be commissioned in March 2016.

Categories: Aviation, News & Analysis, U.S. Navy
Megan Eckstein

About Megan Eckstein

Megan Eckstein is a staff writer for USNI News. She previously covered Congress for Defense Daily and the U.S. surface navy and U.S. amphibious operations as an associate editor for Inside the Navy.