The F-35 Lighting II, an aircraft that makes alternate headlines for being the most expensive weapons platform ever made and for suffering repeated technical setbacks, just got a little bit cheaper, and it would appear that the US government has Donald Trump to thank for that.
Lockheed Martin, the defense and aerospace company tasked with the design and production of the F-35, agreed this past week to sell a lot of 90 new advanced fighter jets to the US government for $8.5 billion, which marks a $700 million reduction in current cost projections.
When asked what prompted the reduced price tag, a Lockheed Martin representative credited President Donald Trump’s ability to “accelerate negotiations” that “drove down” the price of the historically pricey aircraft.
“The agreement represents $728 million in savings and a nearly 8 percent reduction in price over our last contract for the air vehicle delivered by Lockheed Martin and our industry partners,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement to CNN. “This is a good deal for the American taxpayer, our country, our company and our suppliers.”
The price tag on the F-35, currently estimated to ring in at over $400 billion once all is said and done, doesn’t seem quite as high when you take into account all that the American armed forces expects it to be able to accomplish. Different variants of the same aircraft are being produced for the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, each with the expectation that the F-35 will be able to replace their existing workhorse air platforms like the storied A-10 Warthog, the Navy F/A 18, the Marine Corps Harrier, and the current backbone of the Air Force, the F-16. Truly, the F-35 is expected to be a master of all trades.
Unfortunately, the program has been met with repeated setbacks. Production beginning before testing was complete was intended to reduce overall production costs, but have saddled Lockheed with a repeated need to bring previously built F-35s back for repairs as issues have been identified.