President Donald Trump says the Navy should ditch longstanding plans for electro-magnetic catapults for its aircraft carriers and go back to "goddamned steam," Time reported.
In a wide-ranging interview conducted Monday with Time, which posted excerpts Thursday, the president was asked about Ford-class carrier technology, and gave his view on the differences between the antiquated steam-powered system and the Ford's new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, known as EMALS, Navy Times reported.
The preference for steam "blindsided" Navy officials, The Atlantic reported.
"You know the catapult is quite important," Trump told Time.
"So, I said, 'What is this?'
"'Sir, this is our digital catapult system,' he said. 'Well, we're going to this because we wanted to keep up with modern [technology].'
"I said, 'You don't use steam anymore for catapult?
"I said, 'Ah, how is it working?'
"'Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn't have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going and steam's going all over the place, there's planes thrown in the air.'"
Trump became increasingly skeptical about a switch to a new technology, Navy Times reported.
"It sounded bad to me," Trump told Time. "Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it's very complicated. You have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said — 'and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers.' I said 'what system are you going to be' — 'Sir, we're staying with digital.'
"I said 'no you're not. You're going to goddamned steam. The digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money, and it's no good.'"
Navy Times noted the system replacing the steam-powered launch and recovery system is not digital – it's electromagnetic. According to Navy Times, the Navy has struggled "for years" to get the new technology up and running.
"Trump seems to have seized on the project's bad reputation without appreciating — or at least without clearly articulating — the complexities of moving from steam to digital," Atlantic's Adrienne LaFrance wrote.
According to LaFrance, the EMALS system is nearly complete and ready for sea trials – representing "one of three major initiatives in the Navy's push to go upgrade its weapons systems for the digital era."
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