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Lockheed CEO To Trump: F-35 Is Worth It Because It Creates Jobs

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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The CEO of Lockheed Martin Co., the producer of the F-35 fighter jet, is the latest business leader to meet directly with President-elect Donald Trump and promises job creation and better value to taxpayers as incentives to retain the project.

Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said the next bulk contract of F-35’s will come at a significantly lower cost to American taxpayers, and that the company is already adding nearly 2,000 jobs as part of the program.

“I’m glad I had the opportunity to tell [Trump] that we are close to a deal that will bring the cost down significantly from the previous lot of aircraft to the next lot of aircraft and moreover it’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the United States,” Hewson told reporters after the meeting Friday afternoon.

Hewson said Lockheed is “going to increase our jobs in Fort Worth [Texas] by 1,800 jobs,” and that when factoring all the other subcontractors, the F-35 supply chain supports “thousands and thousands of jobs.”

Many CEOs have gone to Trump Tower over the past few weeks to convince the president-elect that their businesses will increase jobs in America. (RELATED: Companies Rush To Declare How Many Jobs They’ll Produce Under Trump)  

Friday’s meeting comes days after Arizona Sen. John McCain revealed that critical parts of the F-35 would not be delivered on schedule, adding $500 million to a program that has cost taxpayers $400 billion so far. (RELATED: Lockheed Contradicts Promise To Trump, Delays F-35 At Cost Of $500 Million)

Trump and Hewson had a more tepid meeting in December, soon after Trump criticized the cost and value of the F-35 jets in a tweet and asked Lockheed to compare the F-35 costs with competitor Boeing’s fourth-generation F/A-18 Super Hornet program.

“We’re just beginning; it’s a dance,” Trump told reporters after meeting with Hewson in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, Dec. 22. “It’s a little bit of a dance. But we’re going to get the costs down, and we’re going to get it done beautifully.”

Hewson had a colder statement, saying after the meeting that she “appreciated the opportunity to discuss the importance of the F-35 program and the progress we’ve made in bringing the costs down.”

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