Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has ordered the Pentagon to launch a review on how to save costs on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, Pentagon's most costly weapons-buying effort in history.
Mattis also issued a separate memo which will review costs associated with a program to revamp presidential aircraft. This could include autonomous operations, aircraft power generation, cooling, survivability and communications capabilities, the memo states. "This is a prudent step to incorporate additional information into the budget preparation process and to inform the secretary's recommendations to the president regarding critical military capabilities".
Costs for Lockheed's F-35 program had escalated to an estimated $379 billion.
He further ordered a review to compare the F-35 to another aircraft, the Boeing-manufactured Super Hornet.
He also criticized the higher costs of Air Force One and met with the CEOs of both Boeing and Lockheed Martin, which make the presidential aircraft and the F-35.
Though he has previously used his own plane to meet with officials such as outgoing President Barack Obama, Donald Trump traded in his Boeing 757 to ride Air Force One for the first time today. While even an advanced Super Hornet is unable to compete with the F-35 in terms of stealth, FlightGlobal previously noted the F/A-18E/F could provide a natural, non-very low observable (VLO) stealth replacement for the C variant.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is expected to cost almost $400 billion in development and procurement costs to field a fleet of 2,457 single-engine fighters - and some $1.5 trillion in lifetime sustainment costs, according to Pentagon figures.
Lockheed Martin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.