If you run a company that does a lot of business with the federal government, you’re paying attention to the utterances of the president-elect. At Fort Worth-based Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, officials aren’t waiting around for the inauguration to talk with the Trump team about the future of the F-35 fighter jet.
Max Baker, associate editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, says the F-35 program is preparing to ramp up to full production.
“The F-35 has been under development for a number of years,” he says, “and, at $379 billion, is the largest, most costly weapons program in the country’s history.”
Last October, Trump questioned the performance of the plane in a dogfight. “He heard that it’s not very good,” Baker says. “He’s spoken out against the plane.”
Baker says Trump’s comments were based on a test pilot’s leaked report saying the plane isn’t able to perform during a dog fight. The plane’s makers and other pilots have discounted that report. Lockheed Martin employs 14,000 people and Baker says it would be “devastating” to industry in Fort Worth if Trump scaled back or cut the F-35 program.
“I kind of doubt that that would happen,” he says. “The plane has almost gone too far to be entirely eliminated, but he could cut back on the number of planes that are bought. I know the Pentagon itself has even been fighting with Lockheed about the cost per plane and recently had to tell Congress that it was going to need another $500 million for the development phase of the aircraft, which should have been finished years ago.”
Post by Hannah McBride.