The chief of US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin met today with Donald Trump, promising to create thousands of jobs and bring down costs of the stealth fighter the president-elect lambasted.
Trump last month slammed Lockheed in one of his customary Twitter attacks for the “out of control” costs of the F-35 fighter jet, sending the company’s share price plunging.
Lockheed President and CEO Marillyn Hewson said today that she told Trump the company is “close to a deal that will bring the cost down significantly” for the next group of aircraft and “it’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the United States.”
“In fact we are going to increase our jobs in Fort Worth (Texas) by 1,800 jobs and when you think about the supply chain across 45 states in the US it’s going to be thousands and thousands of jobs,” Hewson told reporters at Trump Tower.
“I also had the opportunity to give him Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II some ideas on things we think we can do to continue to drive the cost down on the F-35 program, so it was a great meeting.”
Lockheed is one of many firms that have felt the sting of Trump’s attacks by tweet – including Boeing, Ford, GM and Toyota – targeting especially those companies that manufacture in Mexico for export to the United States.
Several firms have, like Lockheed, responded by announcing job plans in the United States. Ford canceled a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico to instead invest $700 million and add 700 jobs to boost US production of electric vehicles in Michigan.
“The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” Trump said on Twitter last month. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th,” referring to his fast-approaching inauguration day.
With a current development and acquisition price tag of $379 billion for a total of 2,443 F-35 aircraft – most of them destined for the Air Force – the Lockheed Martin-built plane is the most expensive in history.
Once servicing and maintenance costs for the F-35 are factored in over the aircraft’s lifespan through 2070, overall program costs are expected to soar to $1.5 trillion.