Donald Trump Has Fixed the F-35 Program in Ten Days

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Welcome to the next four years:

President Trump said Monday that Lockheed Martin has cut $600 million from its next lot of 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter planes, capping weeks of private meetings with Lockheed Martin chief executive Marillyn Hewson and public criticisms of the program’s cost.

….The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter costs about $100 million per plane, though the company says it already expects the cost of the plane to drop to $85 million as the company ramps up its volume of production. It was unclear from the president’s statements how much if any of the $600 million cost-savings were new, or whether they contain savings that the company had already planned.

More here:

Trump, who has publicly criticized Lockheed on Twitter since his election and called the program costs “out of control” just last month, now says the program is “in great shape” and called the F-35 “a great plane.”

“I appreciate Lockheed Martin for being so responsive,” he said. Citing years of delays and cost overruns, he said, “We’ve ended all of that. We’ve got that program really, really now in great shape.

Lockheed has been involved in negotiation for the next batch of F-35s for more than a year….Cutting the cost of the F-35 also isn’t new from the Pentagon perspective, either. Late last year the Pentagon announced a $6.1 billion contract for the 57 F-35’s included in the ninth batch of jets. That represented a 3.7 percent reduction in the average price of the airplanes from what it paid in the last order and an overall 58 percent cut from what it paid when the first planes were produced.

In a mere ten days, Trump has whipped the entire F-35 program into “great shape”! What an amazing guy.

Needless to say, Lockheed-Martin is happy to go along with this fiction. They were already planning on a lower price for the tenth batch of jets anyway, and if Trump wants to take a fake victory lap over this, that’s fine with them. They have a keen understanding of the benefits of good relations with Beltway politicians.

Next week I expect Trump to claim credit for reducing greenhouse gases. Or preventing a terrorist attack that would have happened if not for his immigration order. Or maybe for the decline in illegal immigration over the past decade. Who knows what his next gusher of PR nonsense will be about?

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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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