An F/A-18F Super Hornet prepares to launch from the USS Gerald R. Ford in 2020. Navy photo

San Diego-based General Atomics announced Monday that its high-tech electromagnetic catapults and arresting gear have achieved the Navy’s target of 8,000 launches and recoveries aboard the new USS Gerald R. Ford.

The Ford is the first in a new class of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, and the electromagnetic gear replaced century-old steam technology.

President Trump famously criticized the advanced catapults, telling the Navy in 2017 to bring back “goddamned steam.” But the new gear is designed to reduce the wear-and-tear on aircraft and pilots.

“The last 18-months have been very exciting and challenging. We are proud of the record number of critical firsts EMALS and AAG achieved during this period to bring the systems into real-time operational readiness,” said Scott Forney, president of General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems division.

He noted that the systems achieved a 100% safety record and successfully launched and recovered aircraft ranging from the C-2A Greyhound transport to F/A-19F Super Hornet fighter during the 18-month post-delivery testing period. In addition, over 400 student pilots trained on the new equipment.

“The confidence placed in EMALS and AAG capabilities to safely launch and arrest both seasoned pilots as they sharpen their skillsets, and future naval aviators as they earn their wings of gold, is something we are extremely proud of,” Forney said.

General Atomics is building electromagnetic catapults and arresting gear for the future USS John F. Kennedy and USS Enterprise.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.