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12 Dec, 2016 13:33

Trump says F-35 program cost ‘out of control’, wants to save ‘billions of dollars’

Trump says F-35 program cost ‘out of control’, wants to save ‘billions of dollars’

The latest target of President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism is the Joint Strike Fighter program. He tweeted that, under his administration, the US military will end the overspending and save billions of dollars.

"The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th," he wrote.

Trump’s tweet followed similar criticism he voiced in an interview on Fox News Sunday.

"It's out of control. And the people that are making these deals for the government, they should never be allowed to go to work for these companies. You know, they make a deal like that and two or three years later, you see them working for these companies that made the deal," the president-elect said.

After the Monday tweet, shares of Lockheed Martin Corp. dropped 2.7% in premarket trade.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was chosen as a unified aircraft platform for the US Army, Navy, and Air Force under the Joint Strike Fighter program, but the vision for a multipurpose jet is still under development.

The program is notorious for delays and running far over its initial cost estimate. Moreover, engineers have yet to deal with software glitches and compatibility issues, while the actual performance of the pricey plane is subject to debate.

READ MORE: Pentagon prepares ‘misleading’ response to Senate’s F-35 concerns

Responding to the criticism, Lockheed Martin said it had invested heavily into pushing down the price of F-35s.

"Since the beginning, we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to reduce the price of the airplane by about 70 percent since its original costing, and we project it to be about $85 million in the 2019 or 2020 time frame," said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin's F-35 program leader.

Babione was speaking in Israel, which has received the first batch of F-35s ordered by the country’s air force.

READ MORE: Trump tweet sends Boeing stock into tailspin

Trump already sent the stock price of one aviation giant into a tailspin by tweeting out criticism of Boeing for running over cost in developing the new Air Force One, which will be the plane of future presidents.