Indian Navy confirms EMALS on radar

Issue No. 8 | April 16-30, 2015 By SP's Special Correspondent

The Indian Navy has officially confirmed that it is seriously looking at EMALS (Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System) technology, on offer from the U.S., for its next aircraft carrier platform. While the current Project 71 Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (Vikrant) will sport a conventional ski-jump deck for STOBAR operations, the next vessel to be built, while sporting a similar hull and structure, could sport a catapult launch system -- possibly the EMALS, developed by General Atomics, and now on offer to India as part of fresh strategic cooperation kicked off when President Obama visited New Delhi earlier this year. Unlike the steam catapult system currently operational on US and French aircraft carriers, the EMALS consists of a linear motor drive instead of a steam piston on the former, to proper the aircraft off the deck. The advantages of such a system, shared with the Indian Navy, are several: including less stress on aircraft, greater control on graded acceleration, lower maintenance requirements and more reliable. It also purports to sport a lower logistical footprint. The paradigm of CATOBAR operations throws open a new paradigm for naval aviation. The Indian Navy's vision for future aircraft carrier technology took seed early. In 2009, it sent out an RFI for new multirole deck-based fighters, and entertained briefings on such varied platforms as the F-35B and C, F/A-18 Super Hornet, MiG-29K and concept aircraft the Sea Gripen and Naval Typhoon.