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General Atomics to Develop Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch for France

The US Navy has awarded General Atomics an $8.8 million order to develop the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for a future French aircraft carrier.

The order includes two or three EMALS launch motor subsystems, two energy storage groups, a three wire, and six energy absorber AAG subsystems. The work is expected to be completed by June 2023.

The US State Department approved the potential sale of the EMALS and AAG for France last year at an estimated $1.32 billion.

Advantages Over Steam Catapult

The system’s advantages over the traditional steam catapult include the ability to launch heavier aircraft at greater speed, according to the manufacturer. 

It requires fewer people to operate than traditional systems at a lower maintenance cost. The system reduces water consumption by 37,000 gallons per day, reducing the demand for energy-intensive desalination.

The system ensures smoother aircraft acceleration and precise end speed, reducing fatigue, General Atomics stated, adding that quieter operation reduces stress for the crew.

Advanced Arresting Gear
Advanced Arresting Gear. Image: General Atomic

Future Carrier by 2038

Construction of the 75,000-ton nuclear-powered carrier, the Porte-avions de nouvelle génération, is expected to begin in 2025.

The vessel is expected to enter service in 2038 when the present carrier Charles de Gaulle is due to retire.

The ship is expected to carry a fleet of Rafale M fighters and the sixth-generation Future Combat Air System. It will be able to launch 60 sorties a day thanks to the three EMALS expected to deploy.

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