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.