“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
"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.