The United States Navy successfully performed a series of tests this month to evaluate its new electromagnetic aircraft launch system, which it says is the future method for launching jets from the decks of aircraft carriers.
On Nov. 18, Navy officials tested the EMALS system with its F-35C test mule, keeping a close eye on possible technical risks. The team completed more than 50 steam catapult launches in the summer to collect initial data; those were successful enough to warrant only four subsequent test launches.
The data will be used for U.S. and U.K. military operations, the latter which will include the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier.
The new launch system promises to expand the operational capability of future U.S. Navy carriers by permitting higher sortie rates and reducing costs.
To date, the U.S. Navy has launched a T-45 Goshawk, an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, a C-2A Greyhound and several F/A-18 aircraft with the new system. The under-development F-35C is the next logical step.
The first carrier to receive the system will be the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), currently under construction by Northrop Grumman in Newport News, Virginia. Its maiden voyage is scheduled for 2015.