The US has agreed to provide the Indian Navy with EMALS for its new aircraft carrier under construction, the INS Vishal, India Times reported October 18.
EMALS provides several advantages over previous carrier launch systems. It allows sailors to launch heavier aircraft or aircraft with extra weapons and more fuel than older systems, and it launches the aircraft more gently than the rough jolt of the steam catapults the US Navy presently uses. EMALS is less expensive to operate and takes up less space in a carriers' innards than steam catapult systems, according to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems, the California-based company that developed EMALS.
The request to integrate EMALS on Indian carriers dates back to 2016, when New Delhi sent the Pentagon a letter of request (LoR) to buy the system for future supercarriers.
US President Donald Trump previously blasted the launch system as "no good" in a rather colorful discussion on the technology.
Speaking with Time Magazine in May, Trump explained, "You know the catapult is quite important. So I said what is this? Sir, this is our digital catapult system… I said you don't use steam anymore for catapult? No sir. I said, ‘Ah, how is it working?' ‘Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn't have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going and steam's going all over the place, there's planes thrown in the air.'"
The president continued, "it sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital? What is digital?" before asserting "you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out." Regarding whether the technology would be on future carriers purchased by the US Navy, Trump recalled, "I said what system are you going to be — ‘Sir we're staying with digital.' I said no you're not. You're going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it's no good."
The US Navy completed its first successful test of EMALS on the USS Ford earlier this year. It's expected EMALS will be on future US supercarriers despite the president's reservations.