back to article US Navy says electric jet-flinger tech looking good

The US Navy's plan to fit its next aircraft carrier with electromagnetic mass-driver catapults instead of steam launchers is reportedly on track, with shore trials using test weights a success. The progress of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), the first of its kind, is of interest to the Royal Navy as it could …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Tell 'Em Where To Go

    If Liam Fox has any balls he will tell the yanks where to shove their "suggestions" for our defence cuts.

    Defence cuts should be made with British workers being the number one priority. Who cares about US aircraft workers. There isn't an American in the World who would order UK products instead of home ground alternatives.

    But then there aren't many politicians who have got the backbone to stand up against their US masters.

    1. Daniel Pimley

      Fixed that for you

      Defence cuts should be made with value for money being the number one priority.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


      I work for a British company that makes bits that get assembled by our customers, then sent to Uncle Sam.

      In fact it was Uncle Sam funding one of our british customers that led to them developing a product for the yanks and the yanks are happy to buy.

      Are there american alternatives? of course.... does the US Army use them? nope because our british parts came out superior in the equipment trials

  2. MJI Silver badge

    Just keep the Harriers

    Excellent kit and can we reinstate the Sea Harriers as well?

    Some of them were only a few years old.

    And they were combat proven.

  3. Paul_Murphy

    Pheonix Squadron

    Here is one source:

    But it shows why the UK, as an island nation, needs a proper navy - i.e. one that can be used for a wide variety of tasks, most of which will appear at short notice and may not even mean shooting at people.

    One of the problems with the F35 I suspect will be it's range - especially vital in a ship-borne aircraft.

    But then comparing everything with the Ark Royal/ Buccaneer will only make me depressed I guess.


    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Scrap the air force

      Why not scrap the air force and get rid of service rivalry?

      As you say, you are an island nation. I am not saying get rid of the planes but put them all under the same banner.

      You can't buy a lot of planes, might as well make sure your pilots can all take off and land them off flattops or land bases with the same ease.

      Perhaps your landbased planes and crew (ie perhaps EWACS, long range bombers, transports) would integrate better if they were all under the same banner. Land based navy interceptors could still provide the same level of homeland defence albeit under a different name.

      I mean, if they were all navy planes, what would it matter then? Might actually make admin easier. Might be cheaper.

      No sense in hanging on to nostalgia for the sake of practicality.

      Just playing devil's advocate.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    The Big Elephant In The Room Is R.R.

    The jumpjet establishment at Rollys-Royce, BAE and MoD are culpable for this. Had all the money on the Vertical Lift Cap been spent on Carrier Capability for the Eurofighter and Fast Oilers, the UK would now have a modern aircraft for both the RAF and the RN.

    Just a single version which can operate on carriers and on normal runways.

    Or maybe just filling the Entente Cordiale with life and going Rafale ??

    But LP will assure us that Burgers Are More Tasty And Fatty(R). No need for 200 different choices of cheese, let's dumb US all down !

    1. MarkP

      Carrier Capability?

      As far as I remember making Eurofighter carrier capable wasn't thought possible due the under-carriage. In any case it would still only be a fighter, not a fighter bomber or attack aircraft.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        F15 Design Motto: "Not a single pound for air-to-ground"

        Now what do we have today ? "F-15E" is a veritable medium bomber. If we spent the same amount of money, the Eurofighter would have the same capabilities as the F15E in addition to being able to launch and land on a carrier.

        Instead of fueling the Financial Insanity by faster Algorithms in the Docklands, the wizards could create a rocket-assissted landing system, for example. That would reduce the G-loading on the wheels when hitting the carrier. When they are at it, they could also investigate a full RAVTOL.

        The S-300 Missile has 100 (yes one-hundred) G of acceleration and 300kms range. So a vertical Eurofighter launch or recovery rocket system would require about 300kgs of rockets. Certainly also some clever algorithms and thrust vectoring systems. And some heat-resistant paint, of course.

  5. ciaran

    What's wrong with a chopper carrier?

    Hi Lewis, what's your take on the french Mistral Helicopter Carrier? I stumbled onto the concept recently while reading about the french trying to sell them to the russians. Personally I like the concept, except maybe for airborne radar options. I don't think you'd launch a Hawkeye from it. But it'd be perfect for a Falklands-style regional conflict, no?

    The Mistral-class ships carry amphibious landing boats, tanks and helicopters. They have a hospital deck, and a command-center. Almost no wepons to speak of, that's the support flotilla's job.

  6. Rogerborg

    What do we even need them for, Lewis?

    As you've previously argued, all we really need are nukular subs, minesweepers/layers, and flying laser sharks. At least, I think that's the current score, it's hard to keep track.

  7. The FunkeyGibbon


    Do we have to get the PM to set the heads of each of the services to sort this out and threaten them with the 'naughty step' if the don't behave. Bloody children!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the solution

    Make the forces COG. cimbined Opperations Groups.

    No navy, No airforce, No army, no marines. Just one command :)

    And sack most of the brass as well.

  9. OffBeatMammal

    in fighting vs protection

    so our tax money goes to funding agencies better equipped to fight themselves than an undetermined enemy (and most of their operational use seems to be mopping up after yanks when troops do leave our shores)


    How about we just disband the RAF and split the aircraft between the Navy and the Army and make the juristiction easy... if deployed from or predominantly fighting over water then the Navy takes the lead, otherwise the Army does... but working together and sharing assets is valued above who has the biggest toy collection

  10. The Mole 1


    I agree we should tell the US where to go, but defence cuts shouldn't have preserving British workers as the number one priority. it should have getting best value out of our Armed Forces as its number one priority. If this means buying more, better and cheaper equipment from the Americans or even French then I'm fine with that as long as it is done for good economic reasons and not stupid infighting or purely listening to industry 'advice' at all expence paid meals.

  11. Kev99 Silver badge

    EMAS Research by US Navy

    If I were the Brits & MoD, I wouldn't hold my breath on EMAS being available. The US Navy came to King's Island Amusement Park near Cincinnati close to 10 years ago to examine one of the rides. The ride uses LIM to launch the ride's cars (carriages to you Limeys) and is still going strong.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Who says gas turbines can't make steam?

    Afaict, every CCGT electricity generating station in the UK (and probably elsewhere ;)) uses the waste heat from the gas turbines to generate steam which then drives more turbines and generates additional electricity, thereby increasing the overall thermal efficiency of the things.

    Maybe the current on-carrier turbine setup can't generate *enough* of the right kind of steam in its current config?

    Surely the technical geniuses at Rolls Royce or Babcock or whoever should be able to fix that?

    Put the kettle on and have a think.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Actually The Oiler Argument Is Crap

    As demonstrated in a previous post, launching a Rafale or F18 Superhornet requires about 2kg of fuel at 100% efficiency. So if we have 10% efficiency, a Superhornet catapult launch requires 20kg of fuel.

    I am sure no sane officer will launch with less than 1500kg of fuel in a 30000kg F18....

    Mr Officer Lewis, W=1/2m*v^2. W=30-40MJ/kg for Kerosene. Btw, the math is easier if you use these WFSSI* units :-)

    * Wicked French Socialist Systeme Internationale

  14. Munchausen's proxy


    Modern battlefields involve massive amounts of inter-connected RF communication. How much risk of disruption is there with this big EM discharge going off every few seconds?

  15. Adair Silver badge

    More 'united we stand'...

    In thirty years time if the boys with the moustaches are flying anything at all it'll be logistics (fuel and freight), everything else will be UAVs and choppers. High time, as mentioned above, the forces were merged and stopped faffing about hanging on to outmoded ways.

  16. JaitcH

    Maglev: Devised by Americans; implimented by Germany and perfected by China

    The Maglev principle was devised in the early 1900's by two Americans, Emile Bachelet and Robert Goddard. By the 1930's the challenge was being tackled by Hermann Kemper who demonstrated the use of magnetic fields to produce the advantages of trains with aircraft features.

    For some odd reason, in 1968, Americans James R. Powell and Gordon T. Danby were granted a patent for a magnetic levitation train but I guess Kemper was history by then.

    Research and development programs have been conducted by Great Britain, Canada, Germany and Japan into Maglev technology.

    German Maglev technology is now speeding passengers between ShangHai Airport and downtown and further installations are planned by China.

    The US might realise huge savings by having China do the development of this launch device since it is, essentially, just a short run, high energy Maglev system.

    The US Military/Industrial complex only knows how to build things at monstrous cost with not always successful conclusions.

    Perhaps they could develope a gun using the same principle so the RN could shoot anything to hand as long as it fit a barrel. A very Green solution.

  17. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Complex situation

    Lots of issues here.

    Starting with the failure to do a decent update on the Harriers which would have got them supersonic although being stealthy would have been a challenge.

    The RAF/Army squabble over reasonable sized helicopters *really* sounded like it need a firm slapping on both sets of wrists. Little short of infantile.

    At the core of this nonsense *seems* to be 4 things.

    UK having 1st world commitments (and spending a 1st world budget) but getting a 3rd world outcome.

    Absolute insistence that the UK MoD's requirements are *unique*. No *other* country has *anything* anywhere near UK requirements (hence its a *UK* Eurofighter which I suspect has 50% or more parts *non* interchangeable with *any* other countries version).

    Buy BAe at *any* cost, with 20 000 civil servants to write the specs. If these 2 were people you would say they were co-dependent facilitators of each other mutual incompetence.

    5x more officers over the rank of Brigadier in UK than the whole USMC.

    The quality of outcome a country *gets* for its expenditure on a particular area depends on the amount of *effective* scrutiny that area gets.

    Cautious thumbs up for the electric cat test. Not clear how much it will help HM Navy.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Magnetic Signature

    Can this give enough strength in fields to create a signature for submarines to get fix on. Will it over time magnetize the ships and aircraft? How about magnetic mines, will launching an aircraft be enough to set them off? I remember how much care was taken to degauss ball bearings of engines so not to cause accelerated wear and problems. If they still use magnetic compasses - will these be affected or equipment that looks for magnetic signatures of subs - ships. Has the military even tried to test the effects of magnetic fields to an aircraft? Mmmmmmmm - I wonder. Will FOD to be pulled into the channel of the system. Will this also cause the Bermuda triangle to such these ships down? Wow, where do I come up with these questions.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The QE will be built

    Interesting post Lewis, but I don't agree with the scaremongering at the end. At least one carrier will be built (the first one, the QE, is already 25% complete). Nick Harvey committed to it at the Lib-Dem conference last week. And while he's a complete non-entity, I can't believe he would say that unless he's confident that there's sufficient will across the coalition to complete the QE. All indications are that Dr Fox likes the idea of a big-stick to wield as well, harking back to the "gun-boat diplomacy" days of yore. So, while I'm sure you're correct that the QE-class won't be as mighty as it ought to be in terms of the actual equipment deployed (and there is a particular threat to the capability of the (2nd-in-class) Prince of Wales), at least we will remain a carrier nation for the next few decades. God Save the Queen! ;-)

  20. Mips
    Jobs Halo

    Bragging Rights

    You have found the nail, so smite it righteously on the on the head. Most of the MOD's problems stem from one interest group resenting occupation of the high ground by the other. The shame of it, and it is a shame, that everyone is let down by the self interest of a few individuals. The services personnel do not get what they need for the job, UK defences are weakened, and it all cost far more than it should. To paraphrase Churchill "never was so much injury done to so many by so few".

    Time for a shakeout. A big shakeout.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    why not scrap ALL the armed forces

    and send in a batallion of human rights lawyers reminding potential aggressors that it's an illegal war and we may sue them.

    There that fixed it.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Painted in a corner

    This is rather sad, really. the UK are an Island Nation but could and should have the best navy in Europe. Unfortunately due to military adventurism, and financial misfortune they might only have a suitable fleet on paper.

    The fact that the F35 development is slow is normal and had to be expected from the start. Supersonic jumpjets are far more demanding than normal jet in engineering costs and the development program is costly.

    Installing a EM catapult would be interesting but what could this device launch? The cheapest F18 Hornets are 80's class technology, have no vector thrust and lack the ability to land with unlaunched payload. They could be downed by the stray MiG 29 around the Malacca Strait.

    The SuperHornet corrects the defect but they are not cheap, and would have to be rented. Go Rafale? Maybe, given the fact that Rafale production is still going on, and a gentle political nudge could mean seeing the planes quicker than expected and at a cheaper renting price...But this will mean talking nicely to the French political power. Europhobic ministers might not stomach it.

    Why not renting the carriers to other nations until the F35 is ready?

  23. spider from mars

    Mr Page

    your analogue media storage device has a surface defect causing the playback head to seek backwards and read out the same data segment in a repeated fashion.

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