During his Memorial Day address to some 1,000 sailors and Marines on board the USS Wasp, US President Donald Trump took the opportunity to, once again, push for steam-powered catapults on America’s aircraft carriers.
“We’re spending all that money on electric and nobody knows what it’s going to be like in bad conditions,” Trump said, as he polled the sailors and Marines, whom he dubbed a “tough bunch of people” and “daring and mighty warriors in the Pacific.”
“So I think I’m going to put an order – when we build a new aircraft carrier, we’re going to use steam.”
Trump has long-favored the traditional steam-powered catapults over newer electromagnetic systems.
“Steam’s only worked for about 65 years perfectly. And I won’t tell you this because it’s before my time by a little bit, but they have a $900 million cost overrun on this crazy electric catapult,” he added, at the end of the president’s four-day state visit to Japan. “They want to show – next, next, next. And we all want innovation, but it’s too much.”
The US Navy announced plans to purchase an additional two Ford-class aircraft carriers earlier this year according to Democratic Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Ford class carriers have long been an annoyance for Trump who has expressed skepticism over the efficacy of the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, especially in battle conditions.
Trump also took the opportunity to tout Japan’s plans to buy some 105 F-35s in the near future, greatly bolstering its aerial defensive capabilities.
“The enemy has a problem with it. You know what the problem is? They can’t see it,” he said. “Other than that, it’s a fair fight.”
It’s not the first time Trump has brought up steam-powered catapults at an awkward time.
“So when you do the new carriers, as we do and as we’re thinking about doing, would you go with steam, or would you go with electromagnetic?” Trump asked during a 2018 Thanksgiving Day call with a US sailor who was serving overseas at the time.