General Atomics, the San Diego-based defense contractor that's building the next-generation aircraft carrier launch system, successfully tested it over the weekend. Components of the system were built at the company's plant in Tupelo.

Here's the press release from GA:

General Atomics today celebrated a milestone with the launch of an F/A-18E aircraft using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.  “This event marks the first time in over 50 years that the Navy has been able to launch a carrier-based aircraft using a system other than steam,” said GA Electromagnetic Systems Division Vice President R. Scott Forney, III. “This milestone is an extraordinary accomplishment for General Atomics’ EMALS program.”

EMALS is the catapult launch system that is being designed for CVN-78 class aircraft carriers, replacing the steam catapults used on the current generation of aircraft carriers.  As the EMALS prime contractor, GA was awarded a contract to produce the new catapult for CVN 78 in June 2009.  The first components of the EMALS equipment are scheduled for delivery in 2011.

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We got in touch with Mr. Forney, who bragged on the "center of excellence" that is the Tupelo facility. He also said the company plans to announce in January that it is expanding the plant again – the sixth since GA broke ground in the Tupelo Lee Industrial Park South in October 2005.

We'll have more details in tomorrow's Daily Journal.

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