F-35 on catapult
An F-35C Lighting II stealth fighter prepares to be catapulted from the flight deck of the USS Gerald R. Ford. Courtesy General Atomics

San Diego’s General Atomics announced Thursday it was awarded a contract for the electromagnetic catapults and arresting gear on the fourth Ford-Class nuclear aircraft carrier.

The future USS Doris Miller, named after a sailor who received the Navy Cross for his actions at Pearl Harbor, will be the fourth carrier to use the high-tech systems, which replace steam-powered equipment on older carriers.

“From coast to coast, our employees, subcontractors, and suppliers are excited to begin work delivering these critical launch and recovery technologies to the fourth carrier in the Ford class,” said Scott Forney, president of the company’s Electromagnetic Systems division.

The new systems are deployed on the USS Gerald R. Ford and are being built for the future USS John F. Kennedy and USS Enterprise.

The technology allows Navy jets to be gradually accelerated at launch and gradually slowed at recovery to reduce stress on airframes, reducing the cost of maintenance.

Former President Trump famously criticized the catapults, saying they were too complicated and the Navy should bring back old-fashioned steam catapults.

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