May 29 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's preference for steam-powered catapults on U.S. aircraft carriers is drawing attention in Japan, where Trump recently met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a multi-day summit.
Trump, who spoke to U.S. sailors in Yokosuka earlier this week, has made it clear he prefers steam-powered catapults to launch aircraft from ships, over electromagnetic systems, Yomiuri Shimbun reported Wednesday.
Although electromagnetic systems "reduce strain on aircraft, require less manpower to operate and improve reliability," according to ABC News' analysis, Trump may be more concerned about cost.
"Steam's only worked for about 65 years perfectly. And I won't tell you this because it's before my time by a little bit, but they have a $900 million cost overrun on this crazy electric catapult," Trump had said Monday. "They want to show -- next, next, next. And we all want innovation, but it's too much."
Trump's statements come after the Pentagon said the USS Gerald R. Ford, commissioned in 2017, had "poor or unknown reliability of systems critical for flight operations," including the carrier's electromagnetic catapult.
Steam catapults for future U.S. carriers diverge from China's strategy. Chinese military experts say Beijing is planning nuclear-powered carriers with electromagnetic aircraft launch systems.
President Xi Jinping has ordered the military to modernize by 2035 and become a top fighting force by 2050.
On Tuesday the Yomiuri said Trump showed "disdain" for costly military investments, and that U.S. Republicans are criticizing Trump for "disregarding" the need to deploy the latest technology.
Japan is the United States' most important security partner, and the country relies on the U.S. military to deter an armed attack.
Past and present Trump administration officials are downplaying North Korea's recent short-range missile tests.
Andrew Kim, the former head of the Korea Mission Center of the CIA, said in Seoul on Wednesday the recent launches are not a deal breaker. North Korea could have been testing for performance, and not to provoke the United States, News 1 reported Wednesday.
Kim was making a rare appearance at the Global Intelligence Summit in Seoul, according to the report.