The Advanced Arresting Gear (AAG), which helps catch landing aircraft on the carrier’s deck, and the Electromagnetic Launch System (EMALS) "have been successfully tested ashore at Lakehurst, New Jersey, but this is the first shipboard recovery and launch of a fleet of fixed-wing aircraft," said Capt. Rick McCormack, the Ford’s Commanding Officer.
The aircraft to complete the flight was a Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.
EMALS has drawn Trump’s scorn. “I said what system are you going to be [using] – ‘Sir, we’re staying with digital,’” Trump recalled. “I said, no you’re not. [You’re] going to goddamned steam.” Trump then alleged that not only does the new system cost far more than existing technologies, but slammed it as “no good.”
“It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital?” Trump wondered. He continued to insist only Albert Einstein could figure out “digital” launches.
The US Navy transitioned from the steam launch system to EMALS to cut down on maintenance and repair costs. EMALS also saves quite a bit of space that extensive steam pipe networks take up inside the guts of aircraft carriers.
While this represents a big step forward for EMALS and AAG aboard Ford-class carriers, the ship has a ways to go before she will be combat ready. Though Trump formally commissioned the Ford on July 22, the Government Accountability Office estimates that it will take four years to integrate the carrier’s new systems —including new radars and weapons elevators — with the rest of the US Navy.