The U.S. Navy successfully launched an EA-18G Growler, kicking off the second phase of manned aircraft launch tests using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS).
The new aircraft carrier catapult system, which is replacing steam catapults beginning with the new Gerald R. Ford-class carriers, commenced aircraft compatibility testing (ACT) phase two from the land-based test site at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
“As we move into the second phase of aircraft testing, I’m confident we’ll continue to see the breadth of EMALS’ robust design and operational capability,” said Capt. James Donnelly, program manager for Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office (PMA-251).
George Sulich, EMALS integrated test team lead, said this phase of testing will simulate various carrier situations, including off-center launches and planned system faults to demonstrate that the aircraft can meet end-speed and validate launch-critical reliability.
The team expects to conduct more than 300 launches this year, Sulich said.
“During ACT 2, we will launch every aircraft currently utilizing today’s carrier catapults, with the exception of the E-2C Hawkeye,” Sulich added.
The EMALS team completed the first phase of aircraft compatibility testing fall 2011 with 133 manned aircraft launches, comprising the F/A-18E Super Hornet, T-45C Goshawk, C-2A Greyhound, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. The team also had an early opportunity to launch the F-35C Lightning II to evaluate any technical risks.
This was the first EMALS launch for the Growler, an electronic attack variant of the Block II F/A-18F Super Hornet and Navy replacement for the EA-6B Prowler. This year, the F/A-18 family of aircraft is celebrating its marks the 35th anniversary.
“We’ve now launched each of the Navy’s newest aircraft using EMALS,” Donnelly said. “The system is definitely demonstrating its ability to meet fleet requirements by expanding the launch envelope.”
EMALS is a complete carrier-based launch system. It delivers necessary higher launch energy capacity; substantial improvements in system maintenance; increased reliability and efficiency; and more accurate end-speed control. Its technologies allow for a smooth acceleration at both high and low speeds, increasing the ability to launch aircraft with less stress on the ship and its systems.
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