Navy Selects Electromagnetic Catapults for Next USS Enterprise
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Naval Sea Systems Command has awarded a contract modification to General Atomics for the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) for the third Gerald R. Ford-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
General Atomics was awarded $532.6 million for the EMALS for USS Enterprise (CVN 80), according to a Jan. 27 contract announcement. The contract involves the “manufacture, assembly, inspection, test and checkout” of the system, as well as spares, repairs and technical data.
“We are extremely proud to be selected as the sole-source provider of this first-of-kind aircraft launch technology for all three of the Navy’s Ford-class carriers,” Scott Forney, president of GA Electromagnetic Systems, said in a Jan. 30 release. “This contract allows the Navy to combine procurement of materials associated with EMALS for CVN 79 and CVN 80 to optimize cost savings and production scheduling. We look forward to working closely with the Navy over the next 10-plus years to provide all the capabilities and support necessary to successfully deploy EMALS on each carrier as they prepare to join the fleet.”
The EMALS has been installed on Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), which is slated to begin sea trials in March. The EMALS likely will launch its first aircraft at sea during the summer, when the ship is expected to begin certification of its flight deck, Sean Stackley, then-assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, told reporters Jan. 12 at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium in Arlington. Stackley now is acting secretary of the Navy.
The EMALS also will be installed on the second Ford-class carrier, the future USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79).
The EMALS replaces the steam catapult for the new class of aircraft carriers, succeeding a power source in use since the 1950s, when the steam-powered design emerged to replace hydraulic catapults. The EMALS uses electric current to pull the catapult sled to which the aircraft’s nose-tow bar is aligned and hurl the aircraft into the air off the flight deck.