PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- The Navy made history Dec. 18 when it launched the first aircraft from the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Lakehurst, N.J., test site using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, technology.
The Navy has been using steam for more than 50 years to launch aircraft from carriers.
The Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) program launched an F/A-18E Super Hornet Dec. 18 using the EMALS technology that will replace steam catapults on future aircraft carriers.
"This is a tremendous achievement not just for the ALRE team, but for the entire Navy," said Capt. James Donnelly, ALRE program manager. "Saturday's EMALS launch demonstrates an evolution in carrier flight deck operations using advanced computer control, system monitoring and automation for tomorrow's carrier air wings."
EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system designed for Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and future Ford-
"I thought the launch went great," said Lt. Daniel Radocaj, the test pilot from Air Test and Evaluation
Squadron 23 (VX 23) who made the first EMALS manned launch. "I got excited once I was on the
catapult, but I went through the same procedures as on a steam catapult. The catapult stroke felt similar
to a steam catapult and EMALS met all of the expectations I had."
The current aircraft launch system for Navy aircraft carriers is the steam catapult. Newer, heavier and
faster aircraft will result in launch energy requirements approaching the limits of the steam catapult system.
The mission and function of EMALS remains the same as the steam catapult; however, EMALS employs
entirely different technologies. EMALS will deliver the necessary higher launch energy capacity as well as
substantial improvements in system weight, maintenance, increased efficiency and more accurate end-
"I felt honored to be chosen as the shooter to help launch the first live aircraft tested on the new EMALS
track at Lakehurst," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Brandon Barr, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division Test Department, Lakehurst. "It was very exciting to knowingly be a part of naval aviation history. Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Hunsaker and Robinson, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 2nd Class Williams, Wong and Simmons, were
the Sailors on my team who worked together to help make this test a success. We all look forward to
seeing this cutting edge technology deployed on the Gerald R. Ford."
"I'm excited about the improvement EMALS will bring to the fleet from a capability and reliability perspective," said Cmdr. Russ McCormack, ALRE, PMA-251, deputy program manager for future systems. "EMALS was designed for just that purpose, and the team is delivering that requirement."
The system's technology allows for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the
carrier's ability to launch aircraft in support of the warfighter.
The system will provide the capability for launching all current and future carrier air wing platforms - lightweight unmanned to heavy strike fighters.
Engineers will continue system functional demonstration testing at NAVAIR Lakehurst. The team will
expand aircraft launches with the addition of T-45 and C-2 aircraft in 2011.
For more news from Naval Air Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navair/.