Washington, Dec 22: President-elect Donald Trump has met with some of the US military's top brass to discuss ways of reducing costs, particularly for the F-35 stealth fighter program.
Wednesday's meeting at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida came after Trump last week blasted the F-35's costs as "out of control" in a message on Twitter. Several three- and four-star generals and admirals attended the meeting, including the F-35 program chief Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan.
"Trying to bring costs down. Primarily the F-35, trying to get the costs down. A program that is very, very expensive," Trump said when asked what the meeting was about.
With a current development and acquisition price tag of USD 379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft -- most of them destined for the Air Force -- the Lockheed Martin-built plane is the most expensive in history, and costs are set to go higher still.
I met some really great Air Force GENERALS and Navy ADMIRALS today, talking about airplane capability and pricing. Very impressive people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Once servicing, maintenance and other costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft's lifespan through 2070, overall program costs have been projected to rise to as much as USD 1.5 trillion. Trump has frequently turned to Twitter to vent his outrage across a range of topics. On December 6, he blasted Boeing over the possible $4 billion price tag for a replacement Air Force One presidential plane.
He also called that project "out of control." Trump also met with Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson and Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg. Asked whether he had secured any concessions from Hewson, Trump said: "We're just beginning, it's a dance."
"But we're going to get the costs down and we're going to get it done beautifully," he added
Boeing's Muilenburg told reporters the meeting with Trump went "great" and said Air Force One would be delivered for less than USD 4 billion. "We're going to get it done for less than that, and we're committed to working together to make sure that happens," Muilenburg said.