Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS)

The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is designed to replace the steam catapult systems currently used on the U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the first carrier to use EMALS. John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and Enterprise (CVN 80) are also scheduled to install and use EMALS.

EMALS provides significant benefits over current launch systems, including:

  • Reduced manning and lifecycle cost
  • Reduced thermal signature
  • Increased launch operational ability for manned and unmanned aircraft
  • Reduced topside weight
  • Reduced installed volume

Due to its flexible architecture, EMALS can launch a wide variety of aircraft weights and can be used on a variety of platforms with differing catapult configurations.

  • CVN-78

  •  Designed for a variety of platforms and capable of launching a wide range of aircraft weights.

  • Fixed Wing Aircraft Launch and Recovery
     USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)
     (Footage courtesy of U.S. Navy)

  •  Deadload launches off the CVN 78 are underway as part of the EMALS shipboard system testing and certification.


General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) built a Shipset Controls Lab that simulates Ford-class catapult flight deck controls.  The facility features:

  • An environment for controls and communication software development and validation
  • Support for the development of operations manuals
  • A shipset simulator and emulator for operations and casualty control training
  • Capabilities for fleet training