Trump Criticizes F-35 Cost

President-elect Donald Trump on Monday took aim at the F-35 and Lockheed Martin, blasting it in a tweet that caused the company’s stock to drop. “The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” Trump tweeted. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.” The statement immediately had an impact on Lockheed, whose stock dropped more than 5 percent by midday. Lockheed was ready with a response, issuing a news release highlighting the company’s steps to reduce the cost of the program. “We welcome the opportunity to address any questions the president-elect has about the program,” Jeff Babione, Lockheed’s executive vice president and general manager of the F-35, said in the statement. “Lockheed Martin and its industry partners understand the importance of affordability for the F-35 program.” The F-35 program’s cost has dropped, from $112 million for aircraft and engines in Lot 7 to $108 million in Lot 8. A source familiar with the program said the savings on the next lot would be large, and could be made public as early as this week. Babione, speaking at the unveiling of Israeli F-35s on Monday, said unit costs will be about $85 million in the “2019 or 2020 timeframe.” Trump’s tweet comes about a week after he used Twitter to threaten to cancel procurement of the next Air Force One, saying that Boeing’s costs are “out of control.”