EMALS HAS PROBLEMS WITH LAUNCHING F/A-18s LOADED WITH FUEL TANKS

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EMALS is being “fine-tuned” to overcome a vibrational issue associated with optimising the launch and recovery of different aircraft appropriate for their configuration

Acting Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Sean Stackley, told lawmakers that the next-generation Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is having some issues launching F/A-18s that are loaded with fuel tanks.

In fact as reported by Janes.com the General Atomics-built EMALS installed on the first-of-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is being “fine-tuned” to overcome a vibrational issue associated with optimising the launch and recovery of different aircraft appropriate for their configuration, Stackley stated at a congressional hearing on Jun. 16, 2017.

“What we’re going through right now is developing the bulletin for launch and recovery of the various type, model, series aircraft in the fleet that will be operating off of the carrier,” Stackley said.

EMALS is intended to enable a higher degree of computer control, more accurate end-speed control, and smoother acceleration when launching carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft, such as F/A-18s (both Hornets and Super Hornets), EA-18G Growlers, and C-2A Greyhounds. Moreover it will be able to adapt to future carrier air-wing platforms, such as lightweight unmanned systems or future heavy strike aircraft.

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US lawmakers pointed out that the problem with the new catapult system had been previously described as an issue with “its ability to launch aircraft – particularly aircraft that have all their fuel tanks in place.”

“We started [at the test site in Lakehurst, New Jersey], where we have the land-based system, and they basically start slow and build up in terms of launching and recovering the aircraft,” Stackley said. “In that process, with F-18s with fuel tanks attached, vibration was detected. And so now what they’re doing is going back through the software and adjusting the system to remove that vibration.”

“Today they’re renewing that testing at Lakehurst in advance of when we’ll first do launch and recovery operations on the Ford, later [in mid- to late-2017],” Stackley concluded.

Photo credit: U.S. Navy

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