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In mid 2017 Donald Trump communicated to the press, that the US Navy would not be going forward with the electric aircraft carrier catapult system (around which the new Ford class aircraft carrier has been designed).

At the time, a major component of the story reported by the press was the unknown policy territory when the president would make a forward looking statement in a public but unofficial communication channel.

But, I was unable to find any news of the situation since the event. The question is: in this particular case, was there any effective policy change resulting from this event? Have any of the future Ford class vessels been cancelled, for instance? Or is there a steam retrofit under the works? Or did the navy convince the president to give in?

  • "President Trump's criticism echoes that of a highly critical 2018 report from the Pentagon, that emphasized that reliability of EMALS leaves much to be desired, and that the average time between critical failures is nine times higher than the Navy's threshold requirements" (Wiki) – user4012 Dec 28 '18 at 16:08
  • Thank you. I think we already know that from public information. What I haven’t seen is anything aligning with or contravening the /policy change/ – Doug Dec 28 '18 at 16:59
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    By the way, that is a totally lame and disappointing justification to close. There is absolutely nothing constructive in the statement, since it only references the help center which supports this kind of question, namely: what is the effective policy in a strange situation such as this one? – Doug Dec 28 '18 at 17:14
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    @Doug I agree that it's not a very helpful close reason. However, as written this isn't a great question, either. Some suggestions: Link to and quote Trump's announcement and explain why you think there would be a steam retrofit (is that what was in use before? Is there some inherent advantage? etc). – Bobson Dec 28 '18 at 17:23
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    Disagree. It is a question about application of policy in the context of Trump communication style – Douglas Held Dec 28 '18 at 23:18
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The assertion in the question of "Donald Trump announced the US Navy would not be going forward" is not accurate.

While Trump did criticize EMALS program (in an "TIME" interview, not in an official statement), - most likely, after seeing a critical January 2018 Navy report) it has not been stopped. Moreover, in 2018, a successful test of both AAG (Arresting Gear) EMALS (EM Aircraft Launch System) happened:

And officials at General Atomics explicitly stated that the system is on track (being it's a vendor PR statement, take that with an obvious amount of caution):

“We continue to stress the system, analyze results, and tune the system to ensure maximum performance,” stated Dean Key, senior director of EMALS/AAG programs at GA-EMS. "We are on target to be ready for fleet operations when CVN 78 completes its PSA in 2019".

(PSA=Post Shakedown Availability)

A Defense Industry Daily publication from October 2018 sounds a cautious note not offering a conclusion either way:

As the US Navy continues to build its new CVN-21 Gerald R. Ford Class carriers, few technologies are as important to their success as the next-generation EMALS (Electro-MAgnetic Launch System) catapult. The question is whether that technology will be ready in time, in order to avoid either costly delays to the program – or an even more costly redesign of the first ship of class.

Note that even the most pessimistic option listed is merely a redesign of CVN-21, not a cancellation of the whole EMALS approach/project.

Additionally, the Navy has expressed confidence:

“We’re feeling pretty confident on both of those systems, both on catapults and the arresting gear,” said James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. (Senate hearing on November 27, 2017).

And rumors are, Trump have possibly changed his opinion of the system after a call with Capt. Pat Hannifin, the commander of USS Ronald Reagan

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    That’s very informative, thank you! I definitely did not get any of this from a Google search. Results were full of the incredulous press coverage from 2017, nothing more. – Doug Dec 28 '18 at 17:03

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