Trump takes aim at F-35 fighter jet costs

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II taking part in a flying display at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II taking part in a flying display at the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London. PHOTO: AFP

SEATTLE • Mr Donald Trump has widened his attack on defence contractors, slamming Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet programme as too expensive as aides said he intends to keep pushing to cut the costs of military hardware.

Mr Trump's Twitter broadside on Monday fanned concerns that his administration will cut defence contractors' profit margins and reduce broader federal spending, threatening US factory jobs even as the President-elect vows to boost manufacturing jobs.

"The F-35 programme and cost is out of control," he said on Twitter, echoing campaign promises to cut waste in federal spending. "Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."

Last week, Mr Trump targeted Boeing with tweets for "out of control" costs on new Air Force One planes, urging the federal government to "Cancel order!"

The new administration's focus is likely to be wide-reaching, said the transition team's spokesman, Mr Jason Miller. "We're going to look for opportunities to go back through and make sure we're not getting taken advantage of."

Mr Trump's F-35 tweet drew support from Senate Armed Services Committee chairman John McCain, who in the past had voiced support for the fighter jet.

But Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, home to F-35 engine maker Pratt & Whitney, said the programme supports 2,000 Pratt jobs and thousands more at suppliers.

Mr Trump should "learn more about the facts" before discussing "arbitrary cuts", he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2016, with the headline 'Trump takes aim at F-35 fighter jet costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe