US Navy’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System launches first fighter jet

via Engadget by Donald Melanson on 12/21/10

For more than 50 years, the on-ramp to the highway to the danger zone was a steam catapult that launched fighter jets from an aircraft carrier, but it looks like that could soon be set to change. The U.S. Navy just announced yesterday that its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, has passed a key test by launching a manned F/A-18E Super Hornet for the first time (several more successful launches then followed). Among other advantages, that system promises to allow the Navy to launch a wider range of aircraft from a carrier — including everything from lightweight unmanned aircraft to heavy strike fighters — and do so while also bringing “substantial improvements” to weight, maintenance, and efficiency. Head on past the break for the official announcement (sorry no video).

Update: We spoke too soon, video is now after the break! You’ll have to supply your own Kenny Loggins soundtrack, though.

[Thanks, Fionn]

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