25 December 2010

Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) Tested

The US Navy has conducted its first successful test of the EMALS electric catapult at its Lakehurst, NJ air field.

The navy is doubtless heaving a sigh of relief, as the Ford class carriers were designed to mount these catapults, and retrofitting steam catapults would be very involved.

The British are probably even more relieved, as their carrier(s) have gas turbine propulsion, and so have no steam available, so without this, they would just be big floating anvils.

It's a similar technology the Navy's recently tested railgun, but the energy storage is mechanical (flywheels) on the catapult, and solid state (capacitors) on the railgun.

Given the state of the art in capacitors, it probably makes sense, since the rail gun is much higher power (a few orders of magnitude), and lower energy (by around a factor of 5) than the catapult.


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