General Atomics EMALS "Dead Load" Launch Testing Commences Aboard Second Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier
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General Atomics EMALS "Dead Load" Launch Testing Commences Aboard Second Ford-Class Aircraft Carrier

SAN DIEGO – 28 Feb 2024 - General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) testing aboard the future Gerald R. Ford-class carrier John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) has commenced, utilizing “dead load” vehicles designed to simulate various aircraft weights. Testing involves launching multiple large, steel four-wheeled vehicles weighing up to 80,000 pounds from EMALS catapults installed on CVN 79’s flight deck.

“This is a significant milestone in the process of testing EMALS performance prior to launching actual aircraft from the ship,” said Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “This represents only the second time the Navy has launched dead loads from a carrier using electromagnetic technology, a technology that today is providing significant operational benefits over legacy catapult systems. We look forward to working with the team to successfully complete this critical test cycle and begin preparations for the first aircraft launch aboard CVN 79.”

Under strict safety measures and protocols, EMALS catapults installed on CVN 79’s flight deck will launch a series of large, steel sleds into the James River in Virginia. Each launch will provide data to verify EMALS and its components are operating satisfactorily. The dead load vehicles will be recovered and returned to the flight deck to continue the testing process over the course of several months.

USS Gerald R. Ford, CVN 78, is the first carrier to bring the safe, efficient, and robust capabilities of EMALS and the Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) into areas of operation as part of its deployment in the Mediterranean. CVN 78 has successfully conducted 22,900 successful aircraft launches and recoveries since its commissioning in 2017 with more than 8,700 sorties completed during the ship’s recent deployment,” said Rolf Ziesing, vice president of Maritime Programs. “We are extremely proud of our role in supporting this new era of carrier aviation as Ford-class carriers join the fleet to support our Allies and defend our national interests.”

In addition to delivering EMALS and AAG for CVN 79, GA-EMS is under multiple contracts with the Navy to support sustainment requirements for the now deployed USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) and to deliver EMALS and AAG for the future Ford-class carriers Enterprise (CVN 80) and Doris Miller (CVN 81) currently under construction. GA-EMS is also under contract with the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to continue development and evaluation of EMALS and AAG as a potential Foreign Military Sale to the French Navy for their next generation aircraft carrier, Porte-Avions Nouvelle Generation (PA NG).

About General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) Group is a global leader in the research, design, and manufacture of first-of-a-kind electromagnetic and power generation systems. GA-EMS’ history of research, development, and technology innovation has led to an expanding portfolio of specialized products and integrated system solutions supporting aviation, space systems and satellites, missile defense, power and energy, and processing and monitoring applications for defense, industrial, and commercial customers worldwide. For further information, visit

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