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    US Defense Secretary Orders Review of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program

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    Secretary of the Department of Defense James Mattis ordered the review of the next-generation F-35 aircraft.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Troubled efforts to build the next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will undergo a complete review in an attempt to lower costs and examine the weapon’s effectiveness compared with potential upgrades of existing US fighter jets, Secretary of the Department of Defense James Mattis said in a memorandum on Friday.

    “The Deputy Secretary of Defense shall oversee a review of the F-35 program to determine opportunities to significantly reduce the cost,” the memo stated.

    The review will also explore possible upgrades to the F-18 Super Hornet jet in comparison with F-35 capabilities, the memo signed by Mattis explained.

    The F-35’s primary developer, Lockheed Martin, has faced intense criticism from President Donald Trump for excessive costs and repeatedly missing contract deadlines.

    The F-35 jet’s acquisition price has been estimated at $395 billion for 2,457 units, or $160 million per unit, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report in March 2016.

    Following a meeting between Trump and Lockheed Martin CEO Marilyn Hewson earlier in January, the defense contractor announced plans to reduce the cost of each jet fighter, hopefully to less than $100 million per plane.

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    F-35, James Mattis, United States
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