General Atomics won a $1 billion modification
, which adds scope for the production, assembly, test, and management of Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)
hardware with embedded software and firmware, minus Energy Storage Subsystem and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) System shipsets hardware with embedded software and firmware for the CVN 81 aircraft carrier. Additionally, this modification provides for resolution of EMALS and AAG hardware obsolescence issues, to include firmware obsolescence, as well as non-recurring engineering in support of evaluation and implementation of engineering changes to product hardware, software, technical data, and logistics products through the configuration management process associated with the EMALS and AAG System for the CVN 81 aircraft carrier. This modification also provides case study and developmental research in support of the potential future procurement of EMALS and AAG for the government of France. Work will be performed in San Diego, California (58.1%); Tupelo, Mississippi (40.2%); and Lakehurst, New Jersey (1.7%), and is expected to be completed in September 2032. The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is a technology used to launch aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier. It replaces the traditional steam catapult system that has been in use for many years. EMALS works by using electromagnetic forces to accelerate the aircraft down the runway and into the air. It involves a series of powerful magnets that generate a magnetic field. When an electrical current is passed through these magnets, it creates a strong electromagnetic force. This force is used to propel the aircraft forward, allowing it to take off from the carrier. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.
Current steam catapult technology is very entertaining when it launches cars more than 100 feet off of a ship, or gives naval fighters the extra boost they need to achieve flight speed within a launch footprint of a few hundred feet. It’s also stressful for the aircraft involved, very maintenance intensive, and not really compatible with modern gas turbine propulsion systems. At present, however, steam is the only option for launching supersonic jet fighters from carrier decks. EMALS aims to leap beyond steam’s limitations, delivering significant efficiency savings, a more survivable system, and improved effectiveness. This free-to-view spotlight article covers the technology, the program, and its progress to date.