Monday, July 26, 2010

Converteam develops catapult launch system for UK's largest carriers

UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is investing in the development of an electromagnetic catapult system for the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers in case procurement of the F-35B short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) version of the Joint Strike Fighter is abandoned.

Power conversion specialist Converteam UK announced on 20 July that in 2009 it was awarded a GBP 650,000 (USD1 million) follow-on contract to continue the design, development and demonstration of high-power electrical systems for its EMCAT (electro-magnetic catapult) system and that work on the contract was nearing completion.

The naval director at Converteam UK, Mark Dannatt, told Jane's on 22 July that a small-scale EMCAT system had been completed in 2007 to prove the operation of modern linear motor, energy stores and control systems. Since then, extensive testing of the system has been successfully undertaken, as well as further work at the request of the MoD to enable Converteam UK to scale the system up to a full-size catapult suitable for the RN's new aircraft carriers.

"The EMCAT is designed to fit in the space envelope that has been allowed within the aircraft carrier for a catapult. The intention of building and designing a small electromagnetic catapult and then developing the technology so that it could be scaled up was always a de-risking exercise in case the MoD did not choose the STOVL aircraft or it was considered necessary to launch other types of aircraft from these ships. The option would then exist to fit a catapult and operate conventional carrier-borne aircraft," Dannatt said.

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