The US Navy has successfully carried out the test of electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) aboard the aircraft carrier pre-commissioning unit (PCU) Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).
EMALS is a carrier-based launch system developed to expand the operational capability of the navy’s future carriers to include all current and future planned carrier aircraft.
This new development marks the completion of the first-ever, shipboard, full speed catapult test shots using EMALS.
During the test, known as no-loads, the navy demonstrated the integrated catapult system without attaching any aircraft or other loads to the launching shuttle.
The test revealed enhancement in system maintenance, increased reliability and efficiency, higher-launch energy capacity, and more accurate end-speed control, with a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds.
EMALS programme executive officer rear admiral Tom Moore said: "This is a very exciting time for the navy.
"For the first time in over 60 years, we’ve just conducted 22 no load test shots using electricity instead of steam technology."
The test saw generators within the carrier producing an electric pulse, which was passed through power conditioning electronics to linear motors just below the flight deck surface.
Later, this energy enabled the linear motors to propel the launching shuttle down the catapult track in excess of 180k before allowing the shuttle to a stop at the end of the track.
The next phase of EMALS testing will see the launching ‘dead-loads’ off of the bow of CVN 78 into the James River.
The dead-loads are the large, wheeled, steel vessels weighing up to 80,000lb to simulate the weight of an actual aircraft, and will be launched from each catapult using a specific test sequence to ensure successful operation of the catapult and its components.
Image: The US Navy’s aircraft carrier pre-commissioning unit, Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by mass communication specialist Second Class Aidan P Campbell / Released.