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EMALS - Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System

The next generation Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) was successfully tested in December 2010, when it hurled an F-18 into the skies over New Jersey and marked the first time in over 50 years that a plane was launched via anything else but a steam powered catapult. EMALS will potentially launch a full ine-up of aircraft, including drones, while using less space and requiring minimum maintenance. The F-35 locks into place at about :35 seconds.

On 31 July 1912, Theodore Gordon Ellyson became the first person to be launched from the experimental catapult system. The U.S. Navy had been perfecting an air-compressed catapult system and mounted it on the Santee Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. In the late 1920s the passenger liners SS Europa and the SS Bremen of the Norddeutscher Lloyd line experimented with catapult launched mailplanes. Up to and during World War II most catapults were hydraulic. Although Deutsche Luft Hansa had utilized seaplane tenders using engine steam to launch their Dornier Do J mailplanes on their South Atlantic Air Mail service as early as 1933, the modern steam catapult was a British invention. The use of steam to launch aircraft was suggested by Commander Colin C. Mitchell RNVR, and trials on HMS Perseus from 1950 showed its effectiveness.

The size and manpower requirements of steam catapults place limits on their capabilities. The EMALS place less stress on the aircraft and offer more control during the launch by allowing gradual and continual acceleration. Electromagnetic catapults are also anticipated to require significantly less maintenance through the use of solid state components.

However at the beginning of the 21st century, navies again started experimenting with catapults powered by linear induction motors and electromagnets. EMALS would be more energy efficient on nuclear powered aircraft carriers and would alleviate some of the dangers posed by using pressurized steam. On gas-turbine powered ships, an electromagnetic catapult would eliminate the need for a separate steam boiler for generating catapult steam. The U.S. Navy's upcoming Gerald R. Ford class carrier includes electromagnetic catapults in its design.

The US Navy's Gerald R Ford Class future generation aircraft carrier. The first two ships, CVN 78 and CVN 79, will be commissioned in 2015 and 2019.

Source : Defensetech & Naval-technology.com