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Trump Was Right: The Navy’s New Aircraft Catapult Is No Match For ‘Goddamned Steam’
Look, we give President Donald Trump shit for all sorts of reasons: confusion over evening colors, picking fights with the family members of fallen service members, tweeting too much, making service academy graduations about himself, and so on. The purpose of journalism is to challenge the powerful, no matter who they are, but I’ll be the first to admit when the commander-in-chief is right and the rest of the world is totally wrong.
And in the case of the Navy’s next-generation electromagnetic catapult system, Trump was right: “Goddamned steam” is way better than the futuristic system after all.
Trump first railed against the “digital” Electromagnetic Aircraft Launching System (EMALS) at the heart of the Navy’s new Ford-class supercarrier months ago, in a confusing interview with Time magazine — “What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out,” he said. But now, the new system has some major reliability issues, as extensively documented by the Pentagon’s testing and evaluation arm.
Those issues include: “excessive airframe stress” experienced by Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft during launch operations; an inability to electrically isolate the catapult’s complicated power systems in order to conduct maintenance and repairs without halting operations, a critical feature for any vessel underway; and an abysmal “9 percent chance of completing the 4-day surge and a 70 percent chance of completing a day of sustained operations,” according to Pentagon evaluators — sustained operations like the bombing sorties that U.S. personnel downrange have come to rely on in hotspots like Iraq and Syria.
Lawmakers are coming around to Trump’s skepticism. In February, Navy officials urged Secretary of Defense James Mattis to please, for the love of God, don’t shock-test this bad boy just yet — much to the dismay of lawmakers. "Conducting full ship shock trials on CVN-78 will not only improve the design of future carriers,” Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain — the Arizona Republican and former naval aviator — wrote to Mattis, “but also reduce the costs associated with retrofitting engineering changes."
Sure, OK, but shock trials won’t necessarily fix the core problem: USS Gerald Ford is absolutely not ready for action downrange because of that goddamn catapult — an especially concerning problem given foreign militaries’ embrace of the next-gen launching and landing tech. As one retired Navy engineer who worked at Naval Air Systems Command Lakehurst during the development of the EMALS, the system is “an engineering nightmare that will haunt the Navy for decades to come.”
Now here it is, your moment of schadenfreude: Commander in Chief Trump presides over the commissioning of the Ford last year. Well played, sir: You were right, even if you didn’t know it just yet.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.