In case you missed it, the Navy and General Atomics made history this past weekend when they launched an aircraft from the new electromagnetic launch system, or EMALS, for the first time.
As we reported yesterday over at sister site DoDBuzz, the sea service successfully launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet using the new system on Dec. 18 at Lakehurst Air Engineering Station in New Jersey.
The breakthrough is pretty big news for the Navy, considering this was the first time the service has launched an aircraft using anything other than a steam catapult in more than 50 years.
Now, the service plans to conduct test launches of everything from the old C-2 Greyhound turboprop cargo plane to the T-45 Goshawk trainer to make sure the system really works, and will keep on working.
“Today we answered the question — will EMALS work,” said Kathleen Donnelly, Director for Support Equipment and Aircraft Launch and Recovery at Lakehurst. "Now we’ll work toward answering the question, will EMALS be reliable?”If those tests go well, General Atomics will begin shipping EMALS parts to the Navy for installation aboard the under-construction U.S.S. Gerald Ford by 2011. In fact, as a statement of confidence in the system, General Atomics recently signed a $676.2 million fixed-price contract to build the system.
We've noted earlier that, while EMALS has had its teething problems, it should be able to launch a wider range of aircraft (including UAVs), take up far less room below deck and be less maintenance intensive than steam catapults.