The first of a new class of aircraft carriers has been officially delivered to the U.S. Navy after more than a year of delays, cost overruns and technological glitches that drew criticism from President Donald Trump.
The Navy said Thursday that the USS Gerald R. Ford will now go through various workups at sea before becoming operational in 2020. The Navy plans to build at least two more Ford-Class carriers, according to the Congressional Research Service.
The Navy says the technologically superior Ford can carry more planes and operate with several hundred fewer sailors. A new electromagnetic system for launching aircraft will help to increase flying missions by a third. But the delivery of the new carrier by Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia follows Trump's complaints about the ship's new catapult launch system, which uses previously untested technology.
The president told Time magazine last month that the Navy should go back to using steam catapults because the new system "costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it's no good." The catapult initially failed during a demonstration in 2015, according to media reports. Testing also showed that the catapult put too much stress on planes carrying the extra weight of external fuel tanks, according to a Department of Defense report.