In one of his first initiatives after being sworn in as Secretary of Defense, General Mattis signed a memo today demanding a “detailed assessment to reduce associated program costs” of the F-35 Lightning II program.

While calling for “significantly reduced” F-35 costs the memo even calls for a review that compares the operational capabilities of the F/A-18E/F with the F-35C. The goal of the assessment is to determine if an improved F/A-18E/F could prove to be a cost-effective alternative fighter aircraft. Based on the wording of the memo specifically mentioning the F-35C derivative and the F-18, perhaps this part of the assessment would only concern the US Navy.

Image of Secretary of Defense Mattis F-35 Memo

Back in December then President-elect Donald Trump complained about the high costs of the F-35 program and suggested that the F-18 could be a viable alternative.

Secretary Mattis also signed a second memo today asking for a similar evaluation of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR) program or the new Air Force One aircraft. President Trump had also criticized the costs of this program back in December shortly after being elected even tweeting “cancel order.”

While both of these directives come as no surprise, President Trump is making it very clear that ‘business as usual’ in Washington is a now a thing of the past.

President Trump stated today that he signed an executive action to begin a “great rebuilding” of the of the United States military.


President Donald Trump sits at his desk on Air Force One. Photo by AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Featured image by Lockheed Martin