Mar 27, 2015
New US Navy EMALS Launch System Can't Launch Fighter if They Are Carrying Fuel Tanks
Military weapons testers view this as a deficiency that would “preclude the Navy from conducting normal operations” on the USS Gerald R. Ford until it’s corrected.
The previously undisclosed troubles with the EMALS catapult system from General Atomics add to shortcomings for the first in a new class of aircraft carriers being built by Newport News.
The 480-gallon tanks for extended flights are carried under the wings of two models of the F/A-18, the Super Hornet fighter and the Growler. The carrier’s electromagnetic launch system, made by General Atomics, puts more stress on the tanks than older steam-powered catapults, and that would cause premature damage to the planes.
The wing tanks and the pylons they hang from are designed to withstand twisting and yanking when an aircraft is launched, but the stresses add up over time. Given the test results, the warplanes wouldn’t be able to launch with fuel tanks.
The Navy says it will install corrective software on the launch system intended to reduce acceleration forces and will test it on board the USS Ford after delivery next March.