Traditional steam-powered catapults assist aircraft carriers’ jets and bombers in getting off the ground as quick as possible on a short runway. The U.S. Navy is now testing an electromagnetic version of a catapult on the 337-metre long USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.
“The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) uses a burst of electromagnetic energy to launch planes more smoothly and efficiently,” according to the Navy.
A typical aircraft carrier has four catapults that contain two large pistons the length of football fields. They take up large amounts of space, don’t accelerate smoothly, and need time to recharge after each use.
The new EMALS uses an electromagnetic linear motor drive that operates more efficiently than traditional catapults. It also takes up less space and can accelerate smoothly.