PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Naval Air Systems Command – On June 7, General Atomics secured a monumental contract modification from the U.S. Navy worth $1.204 billion. The deal involves the construction of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) and Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG) for the soon-to-be-constructed USS Doris Miller (CVN 81).

The contract spans a myriad of responsibilities, including EMALS and AAG production, shipset deliveries, handling of engineering change orders, and production incorporation of obsolescence mitigations. In addition, General Atomics will provide program support, installation, and certification support for CVN 81 through 2032, solidifying a long-term commitment to the project.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 launches off of the flight deck of the first-in-class aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS), March 10, 2023. As the first-in-class ship of Ford-class aircraft carriers, CVN 78 represents a generational leap in the U.S. Navy’s capacity to project power on a global scale.

Capt. Mike Kline, the program manager for the Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office (PMA-251), hailed the contract award as a significant development in the U.S. Naval warfare strategy. Adding the EMALS and AAG technology is a significant leap forward for the fleet and will have long-term benefits for future sailors.

Kline stated, “As the fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier to enter the fleet, CVN 81 can lean on CVN 78’s experience and the lessons learned while advancing EMALS and AAG for the next generation of Sailors.”

The EMALS and AAG technologies are state-of-the-art systems the U.S. Navy implements to improve aircraft carrier operations. Certification of these systems is currently underway on the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79), and the systems for the USS Enterprise (CVN 80) are nearing completion. This wealth of experience is expected to aid the smooth installation and operation of the systems on the CVN 81.

Thanks to the newly awarded contract, General Atomics will immediately start production work for the EMALS and AAG systems on CVN 81. This significant move indicates General Atomics’s readiness to take on this project and reinforces the U.S. Navy’s trust in its capabilities.

EMALS and AAG systems are pivotal upgrades to the Ford-class aircraft carriers, marking a revolution in how aircraft are launched and recovered. These systems use electromagnetic energy to launch and recover aircraft, improving on the traditional steam catapult system and offering multiple operational advantages, such as increased sortie rates, improved operational flexibility, and reduced manpower requirements.

The contract also serves as a testament to the U.S. Navy’s commitment to modernizing its fleet and incorporating cutting-edge technology into its operations. It is a significant nod to the trust placed in General Atomics’ expertise and innovation capabilities.

The CVN 81, named after Navy Cross recipient Doris Miller, is the fourth of the new Ford-class carriers being built for the U.S. Navy. As such, the carrier is poised to play a crucial role in the Navy’s next generation of sailors’ service. The introduction of EMALS and AAG on the CVN 81, supported by General Atomics, will undoubtedly pave the way for a more technologically advanced and efficient naval fleet in the future.

The U.S. Navy’s latest move sends a clear message of its commitment to technological advancement, readiness to innovate, and dedication to providing its sailors with the best and most efficient tools for defense. By awarding this significant contract to General Atomics, the Navy is fueling its future with innovation, reinforcing its position as a global naval powerhouse.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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