Trump's Latest Tweet Target: F-35 Fighter Jet

Shares for Lockheed Martin, suppliers dip after Trump criticizes costs
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2016 12:26 PM CST
Trump's Latest Tweet Target: F-35 Fighter Jet
In this Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, an F-35 jet arrives at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Last week, Donald Trump criticized "out of control" costs for Boeing's 747 Air Force One jets. On Monday, the president-elect took a new swing at the Pentagon, this time coming down on the cost of the country's fighter jet program, the Wall Street Journal reports. "The F-35 program and cost is out of control," he tweeted. "Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th." Although no specific company was mentioned, Lockheed Martin—the nation's largest defense contractor—is the developer of the F-35, and its shares dropped 4% after Trump tweeted, Reuters reports. Shares of United Technologies and BAE Systems, both suppliers to Lockheed and the F-35 program, also dipped after Trump's remarks. Trump didn't elaborate on how he'd save those billions.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has come under fire before for high costs—the GAO has called it the Pentagon's "most costly acquisition program," per the Journal—with 2,400 replacement planes on the DOD's shopping list at a cost of nearly $400 billion (a pilot's helmet by itself could cost $400,000). Jeff Babione, general manager for Lockheed's F-35 program, says the company is open to any questions Trump has about the program and that it "[understands] the importance of affordability." Babione told reporters in Israel they've been trying to cut down the jet's price by 70% from the original planned cost. "We project it to be about $85 million in the 2019 or 2020 time frame," he said. No one's sure what spurred Trump's criticism, though CNNMoney notes that defense chief Ash Carter is in Israel for the delivery of two F-35 jets and that Trump often tweets "relatively quickly after seeing something reported on TV." (More Donald Trump stories.)

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