The Insider

Trump again promises 'competition' on F-35

January 11, 2017 |
Tony Bertuca
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President-elect Donald Trump held a press conference today in which he promised to bring down the cost of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, again alluding to plans to compete the plane against Boeing's F-18 Super Hornet.

"We're gonna do some big things on the F-35 program and perhaps the F-18 program," he said. "We're going to get those costs way down and we're going to get the plane to be even better and we're going to have some competition and it's gonna be a beautiful thing."

Trump first announced plans to shake up the F-35 program via Twitter on Dec. 22: "Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!"

The declaration that the F-18 could possibly compete against the F-35 has raised questions, among them how the aging F-18 could compare to a next-generation stealth aircraft. The F-18 also has no vertical lift capability, which the Marine Corps F-35B does have.

In terms of cost, the Congressional Budget Office has outlined plans that would save $29 billion by canceling the additional purchase of F-35s in fiscal year 2018, providing instead a strategy to purchase upgraded F-16s and F-18s over the next decade.