Fri, Apr 17, 2009
Would Replace Steam Catapults On Aircraft Carriers
Thanks for the recommendation... but
we're going to do it anyway. That's the message the US Navy had for
the Government Accountability Office this week, in proceeding with
development of a new launching system for carrier-based
Reuters reports the Navy opted to allow General Atomics to
continue work on its electromagnetic aircraft launching system
(EMALS), slated for installation onboard the USS Gerald R.
Ford (CVN 78). That new aircraft carrier, built by Northrop
Grumman, is slated to enter service in 2015.
Navy spokesman Lieutenant Commander Victor Chen said EMALS
"promises to lower overall lifecycle costs, require less
maintenance than steam catapults and generate less physical stress
on carrier-based aircraft." However, a recent GAO review of the
program identified several concerns, including cost-overrun risks
and technical problems.
Specifically, the GAO said the Navy may not know whether EMALS
works as promised... until at least seven months after the first
components of the system are installed onboard the Gerald R.
Ford. By that time, it would be too late to install a
steam-based catapult system, at least not without significant
redesigns and delays.
The GAO termed EMALS one of the highest risk factors in keeping
work on the new carrier on schedule.
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