WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump told U.S. troops stationed in Japan he plans to order traditional steam powered catapults aboard American warships instead of newer electromagnetic systems that he said may not work as well during wartime.
Trump polled the sailors and Marines on the USS Wasp on steam versus electric catapults Tuesday during a visit to the Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo, the biggest overseas U.S. naval installation.
The tour came at the end of the president's four-day state visit to Japan, a key military ally. The troops' cheers were audibly larger for steam catapults — used to launch aircraft off navy ships — and Trump took note.
“We're spending all that money on electric and nobody knows what it's going to be like in bad conditions,” he said. “So I think I'm going to put an order — when we build a new aircraft carrier, we're going to use steam.”
The U.S. Navy intends to buy two Ford-class aircraft carriers, Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said earlier this year. The Ford has long been a source of frustration for Trump, who has bashed the carrier's Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, which is replacing the steam catapults.
Trump told the Japan base's personnel that steam catapults work better than the newer, higher-tech 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 said. “They want to show — next, next, next. And we all want innovation, but it's too much.”
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