Video: EMALS Launches an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

Here’s a quick update on the progress of the Navy’s test program for its new electromagetic aircraft catapults, known as EMALS. Since the system’s first successful launch of an aircraft (an F/A-18E Super Hornet) on Dec. 18, 2010, engineers have fired a T-45 Goshawk trainer, a C-2 Greyhound and, as of Sept. 27,  an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye radar plane from the system.

The sea service plans to do about 63 to 65 EMALS shots for each type of aircraft at its test facility in Lakehurst, N.J., according to a NAVAIR press release on Tuesday’s cat shot.

While EMALS had its share of development problems, its been moving along quite well over the last year, and if aircraft testing continues to go smoothly, General Atomics could begin shipping parts of the new catapults for installation on the USS Gerald R. Ford later this year.

(Click through the jump for a video of the successful cat shot):

These launches are a big deal since EMALS is the first new type of aircraft catapult fielded by the Navy since the advent of the steam catapult 50-years ago. They’re set to equip both the U.S. Navy’s brand new 100,000-ton Ford class carriers and the Royal Navy’s two next-generation flattops of the 65,000-ton Queen Elizabeth class. The Royal Navy will apparently take delivery of the second EMALS shipset after the Ford receives her cats.

The electromagnetic system will take up far less space below decks than steam catapults and it will be far easier to adjust their power than the current system. This means that EMALS’ power can be dialed up to launch a heavy aircraft like a C-2 and then dramatically lowered to launch a drone like the UCLASS which may not be able to handle the strains of launching from a steam catapult.

Via NAVAIR and Alert5.

  • blight

    Any chance of retrofitting these aboard the remaining Nimitz’? It’s not like they will retire any time soon (though some might be retired early to save money?)

    • FormerDirtDart

      Very likely it could happen. The Lincoln is slated to receive the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) system, designed for the Ford class, during it’s upcoming RCOH. Unlikely it could have the EMALS retrofitted though.
      But, I would think if costs don’t prevent it, if the system is ready, than the Washington, followed by Stennis, Truman, Reagan, Bush could have EMALS retrofitted as they rotate through their RCOH.
      While I don’t have a clue as to the level of labor needed to retrofit the system into a Nimitz class. I would gather it is relatively extensive. Thus, the Nimitz, Eisenhower, Vinson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are likely not to be retrofitted.

    • Tri-ring

      Although it’s possible I don’t think they will do it due to the extensive renovation it requires to make it useful since they’ll need to take out the whole steam compression system or it would be a waste of space.
      The EMALs are compact in which it will probably only need four large cabinet size frequency inverters, banks of super capacitors, a elector-magnetic guide way and EDS magnet tow.

  • Lance

    Looks cool.

  • Jimludolph

    Well maybe it will be cooler around the flight deck now. I use to have one of those waist cats catapults running thru my space on the Kitty Hawk. It made it uncomfortable.

  • Retired ABE..

    Good idea as for improving the catapult system. but also means taking away more job billets from the ABEs who are responsible to maintain and perform the maint. & upkeep. now cat els will take our jobs all old timers ABs we seen this coming,,
    But i guess thats Technolgy

    • blight

      People still need to maintain catapults. It’ll mean retraining and early retirements though.


    Anybody else come here from the Early Brief newsletter and sad there’s no video of a Hummer getting catapulted?

  • Tony C

    What are all the sailors in the forward berthing going to do without all the noise and heat from the steam catapaults???? I assume the water brake is gone too!!
    This could make forward berthing a whole lot more enjoyable.