Watch an Electromagnetic Rail Launch this Fighter Jet at 240 MPH

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Not to be outdone by NASA's plans to launch spacecraft into orbit using electromagnetic force, the U.S. Navy is also intent on using the technology to launch fighter jets from aircraft carriers. And they successfully did just that with an F/A-18E Super Hornet.


The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), can move a 100,000 pound jet 240mph across a 300 foot runway space. According to the Navy, not only is EMALS is a smaller and more efficient method of launching planes than steam turbines, it can deliver 30% more power. The Navy says they will to use this system to launch all aircraft from carriers going forward, including heavy strike fighters and lightweight drones.

According to Danger Room, EMALS will be fully implemented on all future aircraft carriers (the next scheduled deployment of a new carrier will be the USS Gerald R. Ford in 2015). In the meantime, they plan to test the launch system out on other aircraft, including the C-2 and T-45 planes. [Navy via Danger Room via Dvice via Slashdot]



Also, with as controllable and repeatable as the EMALS is, do you really need a hold-back bar any more?

For those who don't know what I'm talking about; watch the video right when the plane first launches. See the bit behind the nose gear that flies back right when the plane moves? That's the hold-back bar, and its purpose is to prevent an under-powered cat launch (known as a "cold cat") that dunks planes into water and kills pilots. It is a reusable link that requires a certain amount of force to break.

If the catapult exerts any less than that amount of force (the force required to launch the plane at minimum safe speed), the hold-back bar doesn't disengage, and the plane doesn't go anywhere. It came about from the days of hydraulic catapults, which were famous for cold-catting all the time. It still happens with steam cats, but not nearly as much. With EMALS, I can't really ever see it happening.