19:37 GMT +323 October 2019
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    F-35 fighter jet is seen at Lockheed Martin's facility in Texas

    Contractor Lockheed Martin Defends F-35 Fighter Cost Against Trump Criticism

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    Lockheed Martin F-35 general manager Jeff Babione said that his company would be happy to discuss the F-35 program’s costs with Donald Trump after US President-elect described the cost and scope of the program as “out of control.”

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – An executive with US military contractor Lockheed Martin defended the cost of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter on Monday, saying that despite President-elect Donald Trump’s claim of an “out of control” program, long-term savings will be achieved.

    “We’ve invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the price of the airplane more than 70%,” a company statement quoted Lockheed Martin F-35 general manager Jeff Babione as saying at an F-35 delivery ceremony at Israel’s Nevatim Air Base.

    “We project the price of the aircraft will be $85 million [each] in the 2019-2020 timeframe,” Babione explained. “When we get to that price, the F-35 will be less expensive than any fourth-generation fighter in the world. And it will be the premier fifth-generation fighter. That’s an incredible value for anyone operating the airplane.”

    Trump, in a Twitter message Monday and a Sunday interview on Fox News Channel, described the cost and scope of the F-35 program as “out of control.”

    Trump’s Twitter post didn’t mention Lockheed by name, but shares of the largest single US defense contractor fell as much as 4 percent Monday following Trump’s latest criticism

    Babione said his company would be happy to discuss the program’s costs with Trump.

    "We welcome the opportunity to address any questions the president-elect has about the program," the executive said.

    He explained that the cost includes not only the price paid by the US Department of Defense to acquire the fighter jet, but also what Lockheed and the program’s subcontractors are investing to reduce the aircraft’s “sustainment costs…recognizing that much of the cost of owning and operating an aircraft is after it’s delivered."

    Development of the F-35, models of which are being customized for the US Air Force, Navy and Marines, is more than seven years behind schedule and is expected to cost $1.5 trillion throughout the program’s lifespan.

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    Tags:
    F-35, Donald Trump, Jeff Babione, United States
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