For the first time, the U.S. Navy has successfully launched a fighter jet with a railgun (video below). The jet, a F/A-18E Super Hornet piloted by Lt. Daniel Radocaj, was launched with the new EMALS (Electromagnetic Aviation Launch System). To put it another way, ELECTROMAGNETIC CATAPULT. Hell yes.
The EMALS is a linear induction motor that’s capable of accelerating a 100,000 pound aircraft to 240 miles per hour in the space of 300 feet. Compared to a steam catapult, the railgun catapult is much smaller, more efficient, simpler to maintain, gentler on airframes, and can deliver up to 30% more power. It’s also capable of being cranked down a whole bunch, meaning that it can also launch smaller (and more fragile) unmanned drones. [DVICE]
We’re one step closer to the space catapult. Also, since the EMALS actually worked, the Navy won’t have to redesign the upcoming Ford class aircraft carriers to accommodate a steam catapult. I guess this means they also won’t be needing our redesign sketches for an aircraft carrier cleverly disguised as a longcat.