President Donald Trump said he’s ‘looking seriously at a big order’ the Boeing Co. F/A-18 Super Hornets, which could be a way to purchase fewer of the often-criticized F-35 fighter jets.
During a trip to Boeing’s Charleston, S.C. plant, Trump floated the idea of purchasing more Super Hornets in a speech to the crowd, an apparent attempt to deliver the best military equipment to the military at a lower cost to taxpayers.
“By the way, do you care if we use the F-18 Super Hornets?” Trump said the crowd at the Boeing factory. “We are looking seriously at a big order,” Trump said.
Trump has threatened to purchase more Boeing’s F-18s over Lockheed’s F-35 since December, when he called the fifth-generation fighter jet program as too expensive on Twitter. He also asked Boeing to price out to price-out costs of building a F-18 Super Hornet that could be comparable to competitor Lockheed Martin’s F-35.
Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
Bloomberg News reported Thursday that Trump let Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg listened in to a call with the chief officer of the F-35 program at the Pentagon. The two reportedly discussed
Days after Trump’s inauguration, Lockheed and the Department of Defense announced the next F-35 contract, which would deliver planes at a lower cost and saved taxpayers around $738 million on the program from previous contracts. (RELATED: Trump: I Got Lockheed Martin To Cut The F-35 Program By $600 Million)
The acquisition strategy for the F-35 included costs savings over time, but numerous technical challenges and testing delays drove the cost up. The program is several years behind schedule, and more than 50 percent over budget.
“President Trump’s personal involvement in the F-35 program accelerated the negotiations and sharpened our focus on driving down the price,” Lockheed said in a statement. “The agreement was reached in a matter of weeks and represents significant savings over previous contracts.”
Boeing did compete with Lockheed to design and build the F-35 nearly 20 years ago, when the fifth-generation fighter jet project was first starting.
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