WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has conducted its first full-speed, shipboard catapult shots with the new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System.
The no-load shots – an aircraft was not used – were conducted aboard the Gerald R. Ford, a pre-commissioned aircraft carrier, which is being built by Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, delivers substantial improvements in system maintenance, reliability and efficiency, as well as higher launch energy capacity, and more accurate end-speed control by allowing linear acceleration and also places less stress on the aircraft itself.
It is to replace the currently used steam-powered catapult.
The U.S. Naval Systems Command said that during the tests, generators within the ship produced an electric pulse, which was passed through power-conditioning electronics to linear motors just below the flight deck surface. The energy allowed for the linear motors to propel the launching shuttle down the catapult track in excess of 180 knots.
"This is a very exciting time for the Navy," said program executive officer for Aircraft Carriers Rear Adm. Tom Moore. "For the first time in over 60 years, we've just conducted 22 no-load test shots using electricity instead of steam technology."
The Navy said dead loads, which use wheeled steel vessels of as much as 80,000 pounds to simulate aircraft weight, will be launched this summer to verify that the catapult and its components are working properly.
The Gerald R. Ford is expected to be commissioned in 2016.