Launch and land
Not one week after it was officially commissioned and entered into service by President Trump, the Navy’s USS Gerald R. Ford is already making headlines. The supercarrier launched and landed its first aircraft using state-of-the-art magnetic technology on Friday.
So long, steam
Prior to Friday’s launch, the USS Ford had used a stream-driven catapult system for launching aircraft. The new digital, magnetic technology – officially called the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) – will save space below deck and can handle 25 percent more aircraft launches per day.
Though many initially balked at costs of the upgrade – including President Trump himself, the EMALS system is actually projected to save the government about $4 billion over the next 50 years.
EMALS was successfully tested in Lakehurst, New Jersey before Friday’s launch, which included A-18F Superhornet fighter jets from the Patuxent River, Maryland Naval base.
According to the commander of the U.S. Fleet Forces, Admiral Phil Davidson, it was a day for the books.
“Today, USS Gerald R. Ford made history,” Davidson said. “Great work by the Ford team and all the engineers who have worked hard to get the ship ready for this milestone.”
The Ford-class carriers are currently the only Naval carriers using the EMALS system. Though a proposal to retrofit Nimitz-class carriers was introduced, experts said the added weight could impact ship stability.