The US Navy is testing an electromagnetic mass-driver to propel jet aircraft into the sky from the decks of aircraft carriers.

The US Navy currently uses a steam catapult launch system to propel aircraft, and several other nations including the UK and Russia use ski-jump ramp to operate short take-off and vertical landing Harrier jets.

The navy hopes that the electromagnetic aircraft launch system will deliver much more controlled acceleration and also be much easier to operate and manage. The system will be used to launch jets and turboprops off the deck of the navy’s forthcoming nuclear super carrier the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).

The UK Royal Navy has also expressed interest in the system and is likely to install the EMALS on the two forthcoming Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, which are planned to be gas-turbine rather than nuclear propelled.