Trump Wants Steam Catapults on Future Aircraft Carriers

Source: Image: AP/Evan Vucci

At a Memorial Day event in Japan, the president explained how electromagnets can't compare to good old steam catapults to launch aircraft.

It’s no secret that president Trump prefers to keep things old school, especially when it comes to the technology installed aboard US aircraft carriers. While visiting US troops during a Memorial Day event in Japan, the president reiterated his support for the traditional steam-driven catapult used to launch aircraft over the experimental electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) that are planned for the Ford-class supercarriers. He once quipped that “you need to be Albert Einstein” to make them work properly.

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Although steam launchers have been used aboard the Nimitz-class carriers for decades, the Navy has been investing heavily into electromagnetic launchers for its newer Ford-class supercarriers. However, the project was met with setbacks that have significantly driven up costs and delayed development.

Trump went so far as to poll the US 7th Fleet troops aboard the assault ship Wasp which they preferred, steam or electromagnetic aircraft catapults. As reported by Business Insider, the crowd overwhelming cheered for steam. However, some were fans of the newer system.

The president has been a longtime critic of the electromagnetic system. In addition to the Albert Einstein remark, he once said that service members that supported electromagnetic catapults were working for the enemy. In addition to claiming that EMALS was no more efficient than steam, he argued that that EMALS was more delicate and expensive compared to steam, stating that they were unlikely to hold up in battle.  

He even suggested a major overhaul to the Navy’s research-and-development project, promising that future supercarriers would use steam.

"Steam's only worked for about 65 years perfectly," Trump told the troops. He later added, "We want to go with steam.”

The president then went on to say, "They want to show next, next, next. And we all want innovation, but it's too much. There's never been anything like the steam catapult."

However, going back to steam would require a massive redesign for the Ford-class carriers, which would add to the costs of designing and implementing the systems in the first place.


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