WASHINGTON — Naval Sea Systems Command has certified the troubled Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) to perform burials at sea.
The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) Navy's newest carrier has had a host of problems, including a catapult incapable of launching the Navy's newest aircraft, the F-35C Lightning II. President Donald Trump, upset about the changeover from steam catapults said, "We had a very good thing with steam. We had very powerful steam. I'm not sure why it's gone, but I think we always need to support our beautiful veterans. I talked to many people and they are excited about this wonderful technology."
The burial-at-sea program, which will be exclusive to former naval aviators captains of carrier who displease the Secretary of the Navy, has support from veterans groups and active flight officers.
"I feel a great sense of pride being a test pilot for this new system," said Lt. Roger "Bare" Sterns, operations officer for Carrier Air Wing 8 deployed on the Ford. "Like any new technology, we had some snags at first. A few ejections, structural failures, and crossed signals. We integrated the F-35C helmet with heads-up-display, since those are useless for this deployment, and now it's a fitting honor for these veterans to take a final flight. A hell of a ride, too."
The innovative move didn't come without costs, however. Development set back tax payers $650 million. "Normal burial at sea coffins were too fragile, they are made from biodegradable soft woods. It was a real nightmare to come up with a special coffin able to withstand the g-force generated during launch," Capt. Kenneth Sterbenz, program manager for Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Program Office said.
"We had to develop an entirely new hardened, eco-friendly, synthetic coffin with a heavily reinforced launch point. It also replicates the look of real wood. The new coffin can withstand a 5g acceleration reach a speed of 220 knots," Capt. Starbenz continued. "Sure, at this point it's financially negligible, compared with just using the F-35C itself, instead of the new coffin, but it's impossible to put a price tag on honoring our veterans."