Mattis also directed Work to compare the capabilities and costs of the stealthy F-35 fighter jet to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, to determine what improvements can be made "to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative."
BREAKING: Defense Secretary Mattis orders review of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and Air Force One programs pic.twitter.com/VFJ7qke2Y9— Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) 27 января 2017 г.
A trillion in the sky
During his election campaign, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump repeatedly drew American voters' attention to the F-35 program's bloated cost overruns. CNN called the aircraft "the most expensive weapons system in history, while Forbes magazine reported that the F-35 program's price tag stands at about 1.5 trillion dollars.
Time magazine in turn calculated that if thus sum was divided evenly between everyone in the United Sates, then each American would get about 4,500 dollars. Time also noted that American pop star Beyonce, who gets about four million dollars for one gig, would have to perform a concert every night for 1,027 years to be able to pay for a 1.5-trillion-dollar contract.
Total cost of F-35 program, $1.45 trillion, could provide free college to every student in the U.S. for 20 years https://t.co/apa8jZ9Uc2— Christopher Mims (@mims) 26 апреля 2016 г.
Price of the moment
That rate of spending irked Trump, who during his election campaign promised to cut government spending for the F-35 program.
In December 2016, he tweeted that the F-35 costs are "out of control," prompting the value of the US aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which is engaged in the development of the F-35, to plummet to 3.5 billion dollars, according to the British newspaper The Independent.
The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 12 декабря 2016 г.
Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson had to give Trump her "personal commitment" to cut the cost of the F-35 fighter jet.
"I've heard his message loud and clear about reducing the cost of the F-35. I gave him my personal commitment to drive the cost down aggressively," CNN quoted her as saying.
In September 2016, Defense News reported that an F-35A had caught fire during a drill at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.
"The pilot had to egress the aircraft during engine start due to a fire from the aft section of the aircraft," Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff was quoted by Defense News as saying.
The ten F-35 fighters were grounded following the fire incident, according to media reports.
Afterwards, the insulation of the F-35's fuel tanks' cooling system was found to be crumbling in 57 F-35 jets, 15 of which had already been put into service.
Earlier, National Interest defense editor Dave Majumdar mentioned the F-35 in the magazine's review of the "worst-of-the-worst" US fighter jets.
"The F-35 is a case of massive over-ambition to develop one base airframe that can be adapted to replace half-dozen specialized jets. The result is an expensive jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none," Majumdar said.
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