Technology breakthrough will let China’s aircraft carrier use electromagnetic jet launching system

A technological breakthrough in naval propulsion will enable China’s second home-grown aircraft carrier to use the world’s most advanced jet launch system without having to resort to nuclear power, overcoming a huge hurdle in the vessel’s development.

The development of the integrated propulsion system (IPS) would allow the vessel to be more efficient, allowing more power for an electromagnetic catapult, rather than a less technologically advanced steam-driven catapult launch system, the sources said.

China’s first two carriers, the Liaoning and its sister ship, the Type 001A, are conventionally powered vessels equipped with Soviet-designed ski-jump launch systems.

But an electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) on the Type 002, China’s second home-grown aircraft carrier, would mean less wear and tear on the planes and allow more aircraft to be launched in a shorter time than the ski and steam-catapult systems.

China’s top naval engineer Rear Admiral Ma Weiming developed a medium-voltage, direct-current transmission network to replace an earlier system based on alternating current.

The development of the Type 002, which had long been delayed, would get under way “soon”.

Wang Ping, an expert in military technology at the Institute of Electrical Engineering under the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the innovative design meant that high-energy consuming launch systems and weapons could now be used on a vessel driven by conventional power.

It was a complete overhaul of the energy supply and distribution system. The same technology could be used to launch not just aircraft, but also missiles and satellites, and maybe even power high-speed trains.

The US electromagnetic launcher has been a source of technical problems and delays for the Gerald ford supercarrier.

A new electromagnetic launch system for aircraft carriers that has faltered when attempting to launch heavier planes is now sound thanks to a software fix, Navy officials announced this week. However, it won’t reach the Navy’s new carrier for more than a year (2019).

The Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, is one of several brand-new technologies installed aboard the first-of-class supercarrier Gerald R. Ford, which was commissioned July 22.

The system has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump, who said in a memorable May 11 interview with Time Magazine that he wanted the Navy to return to “goddamned steam” for its carrier catapults, as the new “digital” technology was unreliable and inexpensive.

61 thoughts on “Technology breakthrough will let China’s aircraft carrier use electromagnetic jet launching system”

  1. US has the power to cut off all of China’s sea trading routes at any moment it deems necessary. Needless to say China’s economy depends on sea trade. Without a nuclear powered carrier fleet of significant size China literally can not do anything about it. Even building up islands will not help with that issue.

  2. I read one of those articles yesterday and they’re really irritating since they all talk endlessly about EMALS, but give only a single paragraph to what the integrated propulsion system actually is.

    “China’s top naval engineer Rear Admiral Ma Weiming developed a medium-voltage, direct-current transmission network to replace an earlier system based on alternating current.”

    Then it does nothing to explain what the advantage of DC current is.

  3. China’s catapult launching system is much more advanced than the American’s. The Chinese catapult launching system is based on DC, not AC as used by the catapult launching system installed in the Gerald R. Ford carrier. It can generate enormous power instantly. So, it can be used in carriers powered conventionally. This not only helps China in its first two conventionally powered carriers, it also helps China to revolutionize all launching systems. For Americans to copy such system, it will take at least seven to 10 years. This is a sure breakthrough for China.

      • I think it means that the ski jump currently used has more stress on airframes.
        DC EMAL would apparently enable eliminating that.

    • You mean China’s power point presentation about EMALS is “much more advanced ” than American functioning and currently launching EMALS? Tell me more… I like fairytales.

      • US has the power to cut off all of China’s sea trading routes at any moment it deems necessary. Needless to say China’s economy depends on sea trade. Without a nuclear powered carrier fleet of significant size China literally can not do anything about it. Even building up islands will not help with that issue.

  4. as the new “digital” technology was unreliable and inexpensive.
    last sentence dont you mean expensive if it was inexpensive tehn why not choose the less costly method.

  5. Why are we attributing such a huge importance to what’s boiling the water? It’s not like nuclear aircraft carriers are using direct conversion, they’re just boiling water for the same kinds of turbines that water boiled with bunker oil turns.

    Really, there’s no connection at all between how you launch the planes, and what boils the water.

    • I think they mean that with electric propulsion (powered by diesel generators and/or steam and/or gas turbines) they already have plenty of electric power available, so EMALS fits in nicely.

      • if my memory is correct, the diesel generator has two windings, one for AC and the other for DC. So it can share its output power according the real time(?) loadings. I guess that is the reason to have enough power for EMAL.

  6. Untill Chinese build their own fleet of nuclear carriers they are not a threat to the US navy. So it will be a long while till they do that.

      • Yet “somehow” the 20 nuclear aircraft carriers that are steaming around the planet get their load of airplanes into the sky, and land ’em again. Every day. With dâhmned few mishaps.

        The advantage of “steam ram” propulsion is that a nuclear reactor – with a low-tech large high-pressure tank – makes a LOT of steam. As needed. The tech is simple. Type of plane, payload of weaponry, (“take off weight”); the flight deck commander “dials in” the pressure needed for the aircraft to get it going fast enough to not drop into the sea at the end of the ramp. swoosh off it goes.

        Given that a plane can weigh 50,000 to 100,000 lbs, loaded … it takes quite the push to get ‘er off the starting line. Pressurized steam is pretty good at that.

        The only real reason why electromagnetic launch is becoming “sexy” is that steam-launch can also be tricky mechanically. The darn launchers seem inclined to break in creative ways. The problem with electromagnetic is that it takes a HUGE amount of electricity and a particularly powerful linear (or conventional) motor, and a whole lot of power circuitry.

        Battery assist (equivalent to the big tank of steam) can help. Lots of amps over short period of time. Or flywheels. In many regards, they’re even better. Mechanical energy to propel a mechanical thing.

        But we have 20 carriers using steam.
        And it works.


        • The Chinese should have gone with spring-powered launchers, half the shit that comes from China is spring powered.

    • Igor, NK’s missiles cannot reach the US, then why the American is haffing an puffing like a mad bull and calling NK a threat?

      • The Nork’s missiles can reach the US, and the development of two point ignition fusion weapons well able to be fit on an ICBM has been a publicly known for almost 40 years.

      • But… GUAM is America, and the Norks can easily reach that. Now, whether they can actually hit a specific target (and not just get within 50 miles!) is another question entirely. Remember: making a missile is hard. But once ‘solved’, is relatively easily reproduced at different size-scales. Hitting a target 600 miles or 1,500 miles a way? Ah… that is much trickier. Much. Hitting a small target 600 to 1500 miles away? (as in within ¼ mile at 1,000 miles), now that takes a BIG trick.

        GPS you say?

        Nice try. They’re now hooked up so that US Military can scramble them in seconds for whole regions of the planet. The missile goes sideways. Blows up harmlessly in the Great Blue.

        Nope. Its hard.
        Why do we worry?
        Because Guam IS America.


        • Pretty easy to guide a medium-sized nuke using inertial guidance. They only need telemetry for a few seconds after launch in order to ensure a hit, doesn’t require any course correction, hitting within 4 or 5 miles will be just as devastating for the island, it would be completely evacuated that’s my guess.

    • China is never a threat to anybody unless they are provoked. You would be wetting your pants if you are the provoker.

      • Yes, the Tibetans will confirm that: China leaves you alone unless you provoke them.

        The problem is that they’re easily provoked by little things like insisting you’re a sovereign country when they want your territory…

          • @stupidVoter,
            As an Indian, I think I probably know more Tibetans than you, since so many have fled to my country. Tibetans are a naturally happy people, but you choose to make them unhappy. The more you choose to make unhappy, the more unhappiness will be revisited upon you. Btw, stupidVoter – who do you actually vote for over there?

      • Not really: if one were to have a conventional steam-ram launcher and be missing the big-steam-generator (nuclear reactor), its pretty obvious that installing a boiler and using petrol would work just as well. You just need to use up a lot of petrol to get a lot of super-high-pressure steam made. The barrier is low. Just requires fuel.


      • The US has agreed to give India EMALS for its carriers, although they may have to be equipped with nuclear reactors to meet the power requirements. China is the new kid on the block, when it comes to aircraft carriers.

          • You’ve been talking to too many Pakistanis, wumao – they’ll always sell us short to you. That’s why you continue to underestimate us.

        • So that’s why your so-called home made 40000 ton carrier had been “launched” three times already and is still sitting there, waiting for the US EMALS. Now you have to refit the EMALS on the ‘flat’ deck, not the ski jump platform.
          Does that mean it will take another two decades to get the carrier “launched” again?

          • We’ll have multiple carriers fielded in 2 decades, wumao. And they’ll naturally be reinforced by our land-based missile batteries and air bases.

            • haha…. you mean like your super stealthy LCA fighter jet?? after three decades of ‘Development’ and the Indian Air Force refuses to use it? What’s the point of having carriers if they are “reinforced” by land based missile and air bases, whatever that means.
              Calling people names sure give you a lot of credit, doesn’t it. Keep dreaming.

              • We don’t hack and steal other people’s technologies like you, wumao. That’s the reputation you’ve earned for yourselves, no thanks to us.
                It is indeed true that we can get by without carriers, since our geography affords it. India doesn’t have the tremendous natural disadvantages of coastal geography that China has. But we will build carriers anyway, since we like them. Unlike China, India has over a half-century of experience in aircraft carrier operations, and we have fielded ours in actual wartime operations, so we know how advantageous they are. You people just want carriers to take photos in front of. In real life, your surface fleet will be sitting ducks. I would stick to your submarine fleet strategy, if I were you. Too many island chains around your inferior disadvantageous coastline — ie. too many unsinkable aircraft carriers — all the more easily to tie you down.

                • Hacking takes a lot of technics too if this really what happened, sour grapes. It is not because you won’t, if is because you can’t.
                  Yea, operating WW2 carriers gave you a lot of “experience”, like crashing the light carrier jets that won’t last more than 10 mins in combat with heavy fighters. lol…. and you are so superior in begging that the US might give you some junks for arms and legs.
                  You rupee shills are delusional as always. That’s the reputation you have earned and no one take you seriously.

                • We aren’t neo-imperialists trying to redraw the world like you Han, wumao – that’s the only thing that others take seriously about you.
                  I notice that instead of flexing your newfound naval muscles, you’ve suddenly been forced to enter into peace talks with Vietnam, now that we’ve secretly provided them with BrahMos. Guess your leadership are afraid of being embarrassed if your cute carrier ends up at the bottom of the sea.
                  Meanwhile, Trump’s visit to Asia is about to set into motion the new Quadrilateral of USA-Japan-India-Australia. Maybe you should run to your little friend the Fat kid, to see if he can save you from the predicament you’ve created.

                • You ain’t neo-imperialists because you can’t even make a decent rifle, rupee shill. Secretly providing Vietnam with BrahMos…. haha…. right. Like Vietnam loves decades old Russian copies. Vietnam has more advance weapons than your multi-national weapon museum. Patting yourself on the back feels good isn’t it. Why don’t you “openly” dump any junks to Vietnam see if anyone cares.
                  Of course the slaves love their master’s visit to leave them so begging craps. You need to lose that slave mentality after 75 years. And you wish you are a neo-imperialist.
                  Btw, when is your superpower government going to recognise Tibet as an independent country?? We will talk how tough you are then. Chicken talk is cheap.

                • Our policy of giving Brahmos to Vietnam has fundamentally undermined your naval capabilities, as we knew it would. China’s coast is naturally surrounded by island nations – and those islands are quite unsinkable compared to mere naval ships – why do you think China has suddenly decided to build islands of its own? But China’s artificial islands are quite fragile by comparison. They certainly can’t sustain human presence on their own, without constant resupply from the Chinese mainland. They are the most vulnerable outposts.

                • ‘Our policy of giving Brahmos to Vietnam has fundamentally undermined your naval capabilities’ haha…. yep delusional at its best. Your decades old Russian copy can’t even take out a cargo ship. ‘Our policy’?? haha….
                  When you have the balls to recognize Tibet as an independent country, we’ll see about your ‘capabilities’. In the mean time Vietnam is following Philippines wise foot steps, knowing the US is not reliable.

  7. who writes this crap .. how do you conventionally power (non-nuclear) an aircraft carrier for EMALS and power the ship beyond litorial .. one can already see they have limited thier carrier navy to the China Sea .. but if this is their solution to EMALS with limiited fosil fuel production, bring it on gladly!

    • Maybe they’re using capacitor banks to temporarily store up enough charge for a few launches before the supply runs out, while the carrier is powered by oil whose temporary supplies will run out after sea lanes are cut. If you’re building castles in the sky, then build them on top of each other.

      • The QEll has two gas turbine and four marine diesel, four induction motor totaling 80 MW.
        Its range is 10000 nautical miles. That is enough to sling any aircraft that can be launch on carrier and reach Indian ocean with fuel to spare. Add a tanker and it can reach any where on the globe.
        Of course, Type 2 of PLAN is bigger.

        • I’m not sure thats a fair comparison (if that is what you are saying). The QEII doesn’t have a launch system. It may have 80MW, but what is the range when generating that consistently? My guess is that on a normal cruise the QEII will be drawing a third of that.

          You cant compare the capabilities of a Nuclear powered carrier to the QEII. The Chinese navy is already a peer opponent of the RN, in 10-15 years the RN will be second rate compared to the PLA Navy.

        • Oh, Type2 is bigger, is it? How much area would that be? India’s peninsular landmass protrudes into the Indian Ocean, and is over 1million square-kilometers. Let me know when you can build something bigger, wumao – better find some more sand to dredge up from the sea bottom

    • “how do you conventionally power (non-nuclear) an aircraft carrier for EMALS and power the ship beyond litorial”
      That’s why they are top naval engineers and you spend your time posting uneducated comments.
      “developed a medium-voltage, direct-current transmission network to replace an earlier system based on alternating current.”

Comments are closed.