Friday, December 23, 2016

Turning Up Heat on F-35, Trump Hints at F/A-18E/F Buy | DoD Buzz

Turning Up Heat on F-35, Trump Hints at F/A-18E/F Buy | DoD Buzz: President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday fired another shot at Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and hinted at the possibility of a renewed competition with rival defense contractor Boeing Co.

“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!” he tweeted on Thursday evening.

The market reaction was swift. Lockheed shares tumbled 1.7 percent while Boeing’s climbed 0.6 percent, according to a report by CNBC within an hour of Trump’s message.

The timing of Trump’s latest criticism of the F-35 program — the Pentagon’s largest acquisition effort at nearly $400 billion to buy almost 2,500 of the single-engine fighters for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps — was again noteworthy.

It came a day after the president-elect met during separate meetings at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida with Lockheed Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson and Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, who oversees the F-35 program, among other top Pentagon acquisition officials.

Trump the same day met with Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg, who after facing similar criticism from the president-elect for the $4 billion estimated cost of the Air Force One program to develop two or possible three of specially modified 747s pledged to reduce the cost of the effort.

Lockheed had no comment.