The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) is an advanced technology multi-megawatt electric power system involving generators, energy storage, power conversion, and linear induction motors, and is equipped with a closed loop control system with diagnostic health monitoring.
In addition to building the power conversion and motor equipment, General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) provides the power system integration and logistics support. GA-EMS also designed, built and operates a fully integrated EMALS at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, test site.
EMALS consists of six subsystems:
Prime Power Interface - The system provides the interconnect with the ship's electrical distribution system and delivers power to drive the energy storage generators.
Launch Motor – Developed in a linear induction motor configuration, the launch motor is a compact, modular, integrated flight deck structure that converts electrical current into the electromagnetic forces to accelerate the aircraft along the launch stroke. The motor design tolerates the range of flight deck environment and operating scenario conditions. A simple moving shuttle interfaces with the aircraft in the same manner as the existing catapults. After the aircraft launches, the electric current in the motor reverses to brake the shuttle to a complete halt without the use of a water brake.
Launch Control – EMALS uses a state-of-the-art system to control the current into the launch motor in real time. More precise endspeeds are achievable over a wider range of aircraft types and weights than those of steam catapults. The smooth launch acceleration may extend the lifetime of the aircraft. High reliability and a system architecture with inherent redundancy is achieved by use of commercial-off-the-shelf components where possible. Modularity is emphasized to ease installation, maintenance, and life cycle planning.
Energy Storage – The required energy for a launch is drawn from the energy storage devices during each two-to three-second launch. The energy storage devices are recharged from the ship's power between launches.
Energy Distribution System – This system delivers the energy from the power conversion system to the launch motor and comprises cables, disconnects, and terminations.
Power Conversion Electronics – The power conversion electronics derive power from the energy stored and converts the power to a traveling wave of energy of the appropriate voltage and current to drive the shuttle along the launch stroke. Based on solid state technology, the power electronics are packaged as compact modules in cabinets that are located below deck.