Trump proven right about electromagnetic launch difficulties on new aircraft carrier?
The Navy’s costliest warship, the $13 billion Gerald R. Ford, had 20 failures of its aircraft launch-and-landing systems during operations at sea, according to the Pentagon’s testing office.Fortunately, none of the failures led to the loss of expensive aircraft or personnel. The Navy will tackle the problem with investigative zeal, I believe.
The previously undisclosed failures with the electromagnetic systems made by General Atomics occurred during more than 740 at-sea trials since the aircraft carrier’s delivery in May 2017 despite praise from Navy officials of its growing combat capabilities. The Navy must pay to fix such flaws under a “cost-plus” development contract.
The new reliability issues add to doubts the carrier, designated as CVN-78, will meet its planned rate of combat sorties per 24 hours -- the prime metric for any aircraft carrier -- according to the annual report on major weapons from the Defense Department’s operational test office.
The launch-and-landing issue is separate from the ship’s lack of 11 functioning elevators to lift munitions from below deck, an issue that’s drawn scrutiny from Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican.
President Donald Trump has expressed doubt about the electromagnetic catapult system, which has replaced an older steam-driven version.
In a Thanksgiving call to U.S. service members, Trump said “steam is very reliable, and the electromagnetic -- I mean, unfortunately, you have to be Albert Einstein to really work it properly.” Navy Secretary Richard Spencer told a Washington audience this month that he’s explained to Trump the advantages of the new system over steam and that “we’ve got the bugs out.”
Ten “critical failures” occurred during 747 at-sea catapults of jets; another 10 “operational mission failures” occurred during 763 shipboard landing attempts, according to the testing office’s report.