The F-35 program of the Pentagon is the most expensive program to strengthen the defense system of the country. The F-35 program has ordered Lockheed Martin Corp to manufacture and deliver stealthy and advanced F-35 jets for the military, navy and marines. The F-35 program was strongly criticized by Donald Trump before his inauguration for the huge cost involved. In a tweet, the President-elect said that he is not fond of the F-35 program which is expensive and hugely delayed. He had also mentioned that he has asked Boeing to come up with a plan to manufacture alternatives to F-35.
The head of the F-35 program informed the House Armed Services committee that the program is on track and the cost will be as low as $80 million in 2017. He also expressed his hope that the cost will continue to decline in the future. As a result, the overall cost of the project will go down while the quality will remain high.
Lt. General Christopher Bogdan, the executive office of F-35 program testified that President Donald Trump made two calls to him before his inauguration. The CEO of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg was also listening in on one of those calls from Trump. Bogdan said that the president was straight forward as he enquired about the F-35 program in detail. He had asked very good questions as he wanted to learn everything about the program. He argued that Muilenburg listening in on the calls is not inappropriate as he was aware of the rules. He claimed that he discussed only public information with the president and the presence of Boeing CEO was not relevant.
Earlier, in his tweets, Donald Trump has claimed that the F-35 program was out of control as the total projected cost was $379 billion. The program has been dragging for years and only a few air jets have been delivered so far. Trump was keen on buying more Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing as a replacement for F-35Cs. According to Bogdan, the president discussed the possibilities of replacement and wanted to know how the Super Hornet will compete against F-35C.
Defense analysts were not happy with Trump making calls to Lockheed. They argue that it doesn’t follow the protocol and it could disrupt the functioning of the uniformed office. Meanwhile, Muilenburg met with the president on Jan 17th and discussed Air Force One and fighter aircraft.
With the production costs coming down, F-35 is now more affordable with each passing day according to Lockheed. The air force, navy and marine officials feel that Super Hornet is not a match for F-35 even with next generation modifications. The stealth features of F-35 are incomparable with superior fighting abilities. To bring down the production cost, F-35 is also marketed to the allies. The US Air Force has plans to purchase 1,736 F-35A jets, navy is set to buy 260 carrier models while Marines will buy 340 fighter jets. Pentagon is planning to purchase 70 F-35s in the present year.