U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met with several top military officers this week on several issues, including an effort to “bring costs down” on pricy Pentagon projects such as the F-35 fighter jet.
POLITICO reports that among those at the meeting Wednesday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home was Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, head of the F-35 program, which Trump has regularly blasted for production delays and “out of control” costs. The F-35 has consistently come under fire as the world’s most expensive weapons system.
Pentagon staff also brought models of three versions of the F-35 currently under development for use by the Air Force, Navy and Marines.
The president-elect told reporters afterward that talks focused “primarily the F-35, trying to get the costs down — a program that is very, very expensive.” Trump also had separate meetings with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
Lockheed produces the F-35, while Boeing is under contract to build a new Air Force One fleet, another project targeted by Trump for its high price tag.
POLITICO also noted that Trump met with several high-ranking Pentagon officials who oversee nuclear weapons and strategy – including Vice Adm. James Syring, of the Missile Defense Agency; Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, who serves as deputy Air Force chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear Integration; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson; Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran; Air Force Gen. Carlton Everhart, who commands the Air Mobility Command; and Vice Adm. Thomas Moore, in charge of the Naval Sea Systems Command.
Military talks were held along with Trump’s national security adviser nominee, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.
“These are amazing people, and I’m very impressed with them,” Trump said later. “And they are good negotiators.”
As for the meeting with Hewson: “We’re just beginning,” Trump said. “It’s a dance.”
“It’s a little bit of a dance,” he added. “But we’re going to get the [F-35] costs down … we’re going to get it done beautifully.”
“I think we’re looking to cut a tremendous amount of money off the program,” Trump said about the Air Force One program after meeting with Muilenburg.