- Lockheed Martin
President Donald Trump told a group of reporters on Monday that he’d talked to Lockheed Martin and succeeded in knocking “approximately $600 million off the F-35 fighter.”
However, he said, “that only amounts to 90 planes, out of almost 3,000 planes,” perhaps referring to Lockheed’s 10th batch of F-35s, which includes 90 planes.
“They were having a lot of difficulty, there was no movement, and I was able to get $600 million approximately off those planes,” Trump said.
Reuters reports that Trump said he appreciated Lockheed Martin’s response to his concerns about the budget and schedule overruns of the troubled F-35.
Lockheed echoed the sentiment, saying in a statement that it shared what it described as Trump’s “commitment to delivering this critical capability for our men and women in uniform at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.”
But the price of F-35s has already decreased across the board, as expected, as the production cycle has matured. Lockheed Martin’s statement did not clarify how Trump might have aided the process.
In fact, as Defense News’ Valerie Insinna noted, the F-35 Joint Program Office had already forecast a cost reduction of 7% for the delivery of the next batch of F-35s, which appears to be about the same as the $600 million discount for which Trump took credit.
As it stands, the US plans to produce 1,763 F-35s for the Air Force, 260 for the Navy, and 353 for the Marine Corps, with each jet currently costing $100 million to $130 million. This adds up to just fewer than 2,400 planes, yet Trump pegged that number to about 3,000 on Monday.
Experts have suggested that the price of the F-35 could come down if the US and partner nations agreed on a bigger buy, but Trump has indicated a willingness to actually do the opposite.
On Friday, Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced that the F-35C naval variant would compete with Boeing’s Advanced Super Hornet concept, an updated to the long-serving F-18 Super Hornet.