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Trump slams F-35 Joint Strike Fighter cost escalation

13 December 2016

President-elect Donald J Trump said yesterday that the cost of building the military's next-generation fighter jet, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, had spiralled ''out of control,'' vowing to save billions of dollars on military programs once he entered office next month.

In a Twitter post last morning and a series of comments since last week, the president-elect slammed the increasing costs of the project that had already exceeded $400 billion, making the plane the most expensive weapons system in military history.

''The F-35 program and cost is out of control, Trump wrote in a Twitter post. ''Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.''

Trump lambasted the F-35 project in a pattern similar to the manner in which he criticised businesses and threatened presidential action. Since he won the election he had challenged Boeing to reduce the cost of upgrades to Air Force One, stepped in to stop Carrier from sending jobs to Mexico and had claimed credit for billions of dollars in investment from the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank.

However, the F-35 program, had taken flak from many critics and Trump's criticism would likely not make much of a difference to the 15-year project, according to commentators.  

Meanwhile, the head of  the project, who was on a visit to Israel yesterday, responded to Trump's criticism, saying he would welcome the "opportunity to address" questions from the president-elect. He also added the Lockheed was investing hundreds of millions of dollars to cut the projects' costs.

"We're investing hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the cost of sustaining the airplane over its 30-40 year lifespan," said Lockheed's Jeff Babione in a statement. "We understand the importance of affordability and that's what the F-35 has been about."

Trump's tweet coincided with the delivery of two F-35's to Israel.

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