Trump zings F-35, asks Boeing to offer F-18 alternative
Washington — President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday again slammed Lockheed Martin’s F-35 “cost overruns,” saying on Twitter he’s asked Boeing to compete with an updated version of the venerable F/A-18 Super Hornet.
East Hartford’s Pratt & Whitney produces the F-135 engine powering the Joint Strike Fighter that Trump has criticized several times, while the twin engines used in the Super Hornet are made by General Electric.
“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!” Trump tweeted.
If nothing else, the tweet super-charges the negotiations a coming Trump administration has opened with Lockheed Martin over the price of what is now designated as the next-generation, multi-purpose fighter for the U.S. and many allies.
Lockheed Martin and Boeing executives had met with the president-elect on Wednesday. After the meeting, Boeing’s top executive promised to control costs on the Air Force One upgrade his company is designing.
Trump said after that meeting that he was negotiating with Lockheed to get cost reductions “done beautifully” on the F-35 joint strike fighter.
His latest tweet was launched after the close of the U.S. stock markets. An earlier gibe knocked Lockheed Martin’s stock price down 4 percent before it rebounded.
Connecticut’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, differed 10 days ago on how seriously to treat Trump’s 140-character-at-a-time musings on defense procurement.
“It’s unclear whether Donald Trump’s Twitter feed will have any connection to the policies he actually pushes when he becomes president,” Murphy said. “I think we all risk getting out a little ahead of our ourselves given the fact that it may be that Donald Trump’s Twitter feed has nothing to do with the policies he pursues.”
“I think this comment requires a response,” Blumenthal said the same day, “because it impacts the views of the American public toward this program and the views of our allies as to our dependability in producing the aircraft.”
The Super Hornet was commissioned by the Navy in the early 1990s. It was based on the design of the smaller F-18 Hornet designed and named in the 1970s. As a fighter and attack jet, it later was designated as the F/A-18.
Boeing has developed an Advanced Super Hornet that it has described as a complement to the F-35.
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