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U.S. Navy Launch F-18 Super Hornet Using Rail Gun Catapult

U.S. Navy Launch F-18 Super Hornet Using Rail Gun Catapult

Navy launches first ever aircraft from its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) rail gun…

The U.S Navy has flaunted more of its rail gun technology by launching the first ever aircraft using its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) – a system that utilizes a rail gun, instead of steam turbine, to catapult aircraft from the deck of a carrier.

On 18th December, 2010, the Navy’s Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) team successfully launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet from the Naval Air Systems Command, Lakehurst, N.J., test-site using the EMALS.



Although the recent tests were conducted on the ground, the Navy hopes to use the system to launch a variety of aircraft from heavy strike-fighters to light UAVs.

The EMALS is 30% more powerful and is also more efficient than traditional steam powered catapults used on modern aircraft carriers. The EMALS was primarily designed for the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) but will be implemented on all future Ford-class carriers.

Test pilot, Lt. Daniel Radocaj, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23, said that the launch felt similar to the traditional steam powered catapults adding that the EMALS met all his expectations.

The EMALS should be ready for deployment on the USS Gerald R. Ford expected in 2015. For now the system will continue testing launching other aircraft including the C-2 and T-45 planes.

The Navy are not the only folks experimenting with rail gun technology. NASA has also announced its plans to develop an electromagnetic launch system to send a scramjet into orbit. NASA says the system will not only ‘save millions of dollars,’ it will also ‘increase astronaut safety and allow for more frequent flights.’ [Gizmodo]

Related Posts:


  1. Adrian Covert: Watch an Electromagnetic Rail Launch this Fighter Jet at 240 MPH. Gizmodo, 12/23/2010.
  2. Press Release: Navy launches first aircraft using EMALS. NavAir U.S. Navy, 12/20/2010.
  3. Rena Marie Pacella: NASA Engineers Propose Combining a Rail Gun and a Scramjet to Fire Spacecraft Into Orbit. Gizmodo, 12/20/2010.
  4. Image Source: Photos by Kelly Schnidler, Via NavAir, 12/18/2010.
  5. Video Source: US Navy Visual News, Via YouTube, 12/21/2010.
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