Trump calls Boeing to price Super Hornet against F-35

Just a few days after he called out Boeing Co (NYSE:BA) for what he saw as an overpriced Air Force One jumbo jet, he put the white-hot spotlight on Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT) - via Twitter - for cost-overruns with its F-35 fighter jets.

His message came the day after he met with some of the U.S. military's top brass to discuss ways of reducing costs, particularly for the F-35 program. "And I was able to give the president-elect my personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company".

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland, said earlier this month that it has worked to lower the price of the F-35 one-seat fighter aircraft by more than 60 percent and that it expects the aircraft to cost $85 million in 2019 and 2020.

Lockheed's shares dropped 2 percent and Boeing's shares climbed 0.7 percent in after-hours trading following Trump's social media post, Reuters added.

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Baird Equity Research analyst Peter Arment cautioned in a note Wednesday that Trump's recent remarks about the F-35 program could send a message to the defense industry "of potentially more risk-sharing on costs".

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg described his meeting with Trump about the new Air Force One as a "very productive" discussion. Hewson said in her statement.

Mark S. Buongiorno, vice president of Pratt & Whitney's F135 Propulsion System program, said in August when the Air Force declared the fighter jet ready for combat that about 180 of the planes were in service and Pratt expects to deliver 88 engines this year and 200 a year by 2020.

The Navy and Marine Corps are in the process of modernizing their F/A-18 aircraft until they are all eventually replaced by the F-35.

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The multibillion-dollar contract with Boeing, which would facilitate the replacement of two 26-year-old 747 jumbo jets nearing the end of their 30-year lifespan, was approved by the undersecretary of defense in September 2015.

The chief executive officers of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, along with several generals and admirals, met with Trump Wednesday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

"I conveyed our continued commitment to delivering an affordable aircraft to our USA military and our allies", Hewson said.

"We're going to get it done for less than that", Muilenburg stated.

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Moreover, by plunging himself personally into the complex arena of government contracting, Trump appeared to short-circuit a process that requires rigorous decision-making about what the Pentagon needs, an effort to create a level playing field, reviews by experts in defense policy and military hardware and congressional oversight.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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