The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters, designed for ground attack and air missions.
The F-35 is the most expensive military weapons system in history, and has been much criticized — for its design flaws; the procurement process in which Lockheed was allowed to design, test, and produce the F-35 all at the same time, instead of identifying and fixing defects before firing up its production line; and for its costs.
The Pentagon’s Office of Operational Testing and Evaluation said in a recently-released report that the F-35 program is plagued with:
“Significant, well-documented deficiencies; for hundreds of these, the program has no plan to adequately fix and verify with flight test…. The program currently has 17 known and acknowledged failures to meet the contract specification requirements…. The current schedule-driven program plans to close out testing in 2017 do not include enough time to fix these key deficiencies, nor time to verify corrections in flight test.”
The report recommends that Trump’s administration should “rigorously and comprehensively review” the aircraft’s effectiveness.
With flaws acknowledged by the Pentagon, the F-35 is prohibitively expensive. One F-35C fighter jet costs $116 million for just its low rate initial production without engine. By 2014, the program already was $163 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule. The entire F-35 program has cost taxpayers $379 billion to date, and is the Pentagon’s costliest program. Additional operating costs are likely to take the total to above $1 trillion.
On December 22, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump, a businessman, wrote a 24-word tweet, asking if American taxpayers can get a better deal from Boeing, Lockheed’s competitor.
Immediately after Trump fired off his tweet, Lockheed’s share price fell by 2%.
On January 13, 2017, 22 days after Trump’s tweet, Lockheed Martin Corp CEO Marillyn Hewson met with Trump, then announced that Lockheed is close to finalizing a deal that will significantly lower the cost of its F-35 fighter jets. Hewson also promised the company would create 1,800 new jobs in its Fort Worth, Texas facility. Those new jobs, in turn, will create “thousands and thousands of jobs” by bolstering domestic supply chains.
“I had a very good conversation with President-elect Trump this afternoon and assured him that I’ve heard his message loud and clear about reducing the cost of the F-35. I gave him my personal commitment to drive the cost down aggressively. I know that President-elect Trump wants the very best capability for our military at the lowest cost for taxpayers, and we’re ready to deliver!”
Here’s what motivated Lockheed to lower its F-35 production costs:
Trump is the first President-elect — and will be the first President — to use Twitter, which unsurprisingly horrifies and scandalizes liberals and the MSM. Trump’s twitter strategy already has proven effective in motivating companies to invest billions in America — Ford, Chrysler, Alibaba, Amazon, and now Lockheed Martin.
H/t Public Interest Group