US Navy will scrap touchscreen controls on its destroyers

The US military normally embraces technology whenever possible. This time, however, it’s taking a conspicuous step back. The Navy will ditchtouchscreens on destroyers within the next 18 to 24 months, reverting instead to conventional helm controls and physical throttles.

The decision came in response to feedback from the fleet after an investigation into the USS John S. McCain’s collision in 2017, which killed 10 Navy sailors. The report found that the warship’s complex touchscreen interface and poor training played a role in the crash with a Liberian-flagged vessel.

The switch will affect all DDG-51 class (Arleigh Burke) ships using the Integrated Bridge and Navigation System. You should see the first change in summer 2020.

The first in-service ship to make the leap will be the USS Ramage, while the first brand new destroyer to drop touchscreens will be the USS Ted Stevens.

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