Trump asks Boeing to price out a comparable jet to compete with F-35

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Lockheed Martin

An F-35B from Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501), flies near its base a MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina.

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to a series of cost overruns and other development issues for the F-35 fighter jet, President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday he has asked Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet.”

Trump’s request – announced via tweet – came a day after meeting separately with the CEOs from Lockheed Martin and Boeing to discuss bringing the “costs down” on the F-35 fifth-generation stealth jet and the next fleet of presidential aircraft.

On December 12, Trump said the cost for Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation stealth F-35 Lightning II jet was also “out of control.” The message sent Lockheed Martin’s stock down from $251 at the opening bell to $245.50, before it rebounded to a little more than $253 a share.

“We’re trying to get costs down … primarily the F-35, we’re trying to get the cost down. It’s a program that is very, very expensive,” Trump said after meeting with several generals and admirals on Wednesday.

Trump said the negotiations with Lockheed Martin were “just beginning” and described it as “a little bit of a dance.”

The F-35, valued at an acquisition cost of $379 billion, has become one of the most challenged programs in the history of the Department of Defense. It has experienced setbacks that include faulty ejection seats, software delays, and helmet-display issues.

I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the importance of the F-35 program and the progress we’ve made in bringing the costs down,” Hewson said in a statement. “The F-35 is a critical program to our national security, and I conveyed our continued commitment to delivering an affordable aircraft to our U.S. military and our allies.”

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