OT: USS Gerald R. Ford EMALS Electromagnetic Aircraft Catapult Demo

Submitted by redwhiteandMGOBLUE on February 6th, 2017 at 11:43 PM

I know we've had a couple of posts on the commission and building of the USS Gerald R. Ford but now we have video of the catapult system testing (embed below).

I know less than nothing about this launch system but the video description is pretty informative and the video brings out my inner twelve year old.


Pre-commissioing Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) conducts dead-load testing of the The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) .


The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for CVN 78 and all future Gerald R. Ford-class carriers. The launching system is designed to expand the operational capability of the Navy’s future carriers. The mission and function of EMALS remains the same as traditional steam catapult; however, it employs entirely different technologies. EMALS uses stored kinetic energy and solid-state electrical power conversion. This technology permits a high degree of computer control, monitoring and automation. The system will also provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms – lightweight unmanned to heavy strike fighters.

EMALS delivers:
• Necessary higher launch energy capacity.
• Substantial improvements in system weight, volume and maintenance.
• Increased reliability and efficiency.
• More accurate end-speed control.

EMALS is funded by the CVN 21 program and will be forward fit only for U.S. Ford-class carriers, beginning with Gerald R Ford (CVN 78).

Courtesy Video | Navy Media Content Services | Date: 06.16.2015

AiirSource℠ covers military events and missions from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.



Navy Wolverine

February 7th, 2017 at 12:51 AM ^

Having ridden on the business end of those catapults a few hundred times in my life, my wife, my kids and I are sure glad they were tested with those little red trolleys before they were used with a real airplane.

If you consider that an F-35C will cost about $100 Million (or more) per aircraft not to mention the pilot flying the jet who has received Millions of Dollars worth of training, I think the ROI for the tax payer is actually pretty damn good.

Navy Wolverine

February 7th, 2017 at 7:33 AM ^

I flew F/A-18Cs off of the USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln. 

During the cat launch, you accelerate from 0 to 160 within 300 feet of distance which takes about 3 seconds. It's about 3-4 g's which is quite a kick in the pants in that forward axis (it really puts you back in your seat). I really haven't experienced anything else that compares to the sudden acceleration of a cat shot. 


February 7th, 2017 at 9:00 AM ^

I was bummed when by brother-in-law chose helicopters over fixed wing when in flight school. As cool as Seahawks are, launching off a carrier must be amazing. I know I would never get near any of those in any case but at least I could live vicariously through him.



February 7th, 2017 at 7:38 AM ^

2500 yards astern of the bird farm in lifeguard station for countless hours, I am sure glad they tested with those trolleys as well, or we would have been a lot busier picking you brown shoes out of the water brother.

Maybe New News gave them time to watch, but it's a testament to the people who build our steel homes at sea, that so many took the time to watch that exercise. It's nice to see what you build works, and it's nice to know that those that build it care that it works.

In sadder news, we no longer have a USS Enterprise in our fleet. I am lookin forward to CVN-80. (We need a new Yorktown too.)


February 7th, 2017 at 8:22 AM ^

I expected a certain amount of knee-jerk butt-hurt from some.

I'm going to give the board credit that most negs are just because it was a pretty lame joke.

I could reply with anecdotes from my brother's 25 yrs as a naval pilot on different carriers, but that would be classless.


February 7th, 2017 at 9:07 AM ^

The idea of a 13 billion dollar ship sailiong around the globe flinging red trolley's at it's enemies is classless?

It's hilarious!  With a little Terry Gilliam animation, I'd say it's downright Python-esque

The humorless fuck line starts over there.

blue in dc

February 7th, 2017 at 1:58 PM ^

Was starting your response to a few negs with

- I expected a bunch of "knee jerk butt hurt from some"

- i could reply showing that I support the navy blah blah blah, but that would be classless, when in fact you've just basically done the thing you called classless.

If you'd just left it with the simple "I'm going to give the board credit that most negs are just because it was a pretty lame joke." - that would have been classy (and probably true)

Your response has done little to change my view of your classlessness - nothing says classy more than "the humorless fuck line starts over there"

blue in dc

February 7th, 2017 at 10:11 PM ^

Path to posthumous prominence is in the comedic field, but hey, at least one reviewer commented, "it's hilarious...downright Pythonesque", so maybe I'm wrong. Of course that very same revieer also noted, "it was a pretty lame joke". Mmm, maybe it was the lameness of the joke and not the inability to detect sarcasm that led to the negs?


February 8th, 2017 at 12:00 AM ^

I'm the one who said it was Python-esque.

I make plenty of jokes that get negs, & I'll make plenty more.
but I think I nailed you pretty spot-on in the over-reaction dept.

You read my first sentence about "wasted tax dollars" (but missed the grumy old Grandpa Simpson voice btw) and then you stopped reading & thought "OMG he's insulting the miltitary."

No, it was just a simple joke about the ineffectiveness of flinging red trolleys but I guessed there'd be some knee-jerkers who might not make it past the first line.  There often is if I'm not overly careful with my wording.

You've made it very clear you didn't & took it personally when called out in my comment to EM.  Did you notice I was talking to EM & not you?  I wasn't even talking to Redwhite&GoBlue; I appreciated his video (even though I've seen hundreds) & wouldn't think of negging him.

But you've apparently let a couple internet message board posts get you sort-of fixated & emotional about this.  I hope you find healing.


February 7th, 2017 at 12:00 AM ^

no expert, but I was coincidentally reading wiki about this a few weeks ago. the Chinese carrier and India use the oldest technology, a "ski jump" which you can imagine how it works. that really limits the weight of the aircraft they can launch.

we have been using steam catapults for decades giving us superiority in launching heavier and better aircraft.

this new method is far superior to steam in every way. and, it's flexible so we can launch drones to our heaviest fighters. very cool.


February 7th, 2017 at 12:16 AM ^

Took a quick wiki search.... it appears that the aircraft in ski style carriers take off on their own power rather than a catapult.

My question, is why doesn't the USN also have a ski lift at the end of the catapult system. I know we don't need it, but after takeoff it'd allow for the pilot to have more time until impact if something bad where to happen. In addition, itd also have the added luxury of increased weight capabilities.


February 7th, 2017 at 1:17 AM ^

I beleave the Steam catipults were already were more limited by the stresses the airframes, and the squishy pilot inside, adding additional G forces with a "ski jump" would prolly collapse the landingear at best of most modern carrier planes. the bennifit the these new catipults are more precise power, so it can provide lower power to drones and the such, while also being able to launch heavier planes.

Wolverine In Iowa

February 7th, 2017 at 11:25 AM ^

The Russian carrier that was just in the Med lost a bunch of planes (so I heard), because they ran out of fuel...the logistics and operations running a carrier air wing is still a tad beyond the capabilities of the Russians.  The planes were unable to carry enough fuel and ordnance to be useful, apparently, and some went into the drink because they couldn't refuel.

Navy Wolverine

February 7th, 2017 at 12:26 AM ^

Thanks for posting. Really cool videos. As you could imagine, steam catapults require a tremendous amount of water. One benefit to nuclear powered aircraft carriers is the reactors are able to generate a tremendous amount of water - a high percentage of which is needed to go to the catapult system. The older fossil fuel carriers (all of which are now retired) could not generate as much water which limited the amount that could be used for other things (such as cooking and bathing). These crews on these ships usually had to take "Navy Showers" and the ships would even have restricted hours for using warer. The nuclear carriers now in service rarely have such restrictions but the EMALS will make it even better.


February 7th, 2017 at 8:42 AM ^

You can't use sea water to build steam, or for anything else - it's filthy stuff and would leave salt deposits everywhere.  And drinking it will kill you.  It must be desalienated and purified before its used for anything.

I don't know about the targets that float around on top of the water, but my fast attack submarine made 8000 gallons of water/day - when the stil worked.  And that was back in the 80's, so I'm sure it's better now.  We never rationed water, nor did the Sonar Techs (me) take 'Navy showers'.  A 'Navy shower' is the domain of the uninformed.


February 7th, 2017 at 10:34 AM ^

Having driven those targets around the ocean myself, I can say that Navy showers are absolutely real things and not at all the domain of the uninformed.  Especially on steam-powered ships with boilers.  Especially especially when said steam-powered ship suffers cascading engineering casualties that leaves it limping back to port at 8% fresh water in the tanks praying that that water lasts another 36 hours.  Actually, the showers are secured at that point and you're eating hotdogs off paper plates for three days straight, but regardless.