Lockheed Martin CEO: Trump 'absolutely' helped cut F-35's cost

Jpn f35Courtesy of Lockheed MartinA photo from the roll out of the first Japan Air Self Defence Force F-35A Lightning II.

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson said that President Donald Trump “
absolutely” made a difference in the savings and timelines for production of the fifth-generation fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II.
“He helped accelerate that along, and I think he put a sharper focus on price and how we drive the price down,” Hewson said in a media brief cited by DoD Buzz. “He absolutely did contribute to us getting to closure on that.”

Trump originally criticised the program in December on Twitter, alleging “tremendous cost and cost overruns.” The president’s words sent Lockheed’s shares tumbling 5% immediately after he tweeted.

The Pentagon has ordered 90 F-35s — 55 for the US and 35 for international partners — which is estimated to cost $US8.5 billion, about a $US728 million cost-reduction compared to the previous batch.

Trump has since given speeches where he took credit for the cuts in the F-35’s price. “To save taxpayer dollars, I’ve already begun negotiating better contracts for the federal government, saving over $US700 million on just one set of aeroplanes,” said Trump during a National Republican Congressional Committee fundraising dinner on Tuesday night.

Critics pointed out that the program’s costs would have been lowered regardless of Trump’s involvement. “He’s not responsible for the savings, they were already in the pipeline long before he came on the scene,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, in a Politifact report published last month.

The Pentagon is negotiating the next batch of F-35s — 120 of them — which are estimated to cost more than $US10 billion, according to The Hill. Hewson says that Trump hasn’t been involved in the negotiations, but said Lockheed Martin was “working well” with officials from the US Defence Department to reach a deal by 2017.

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