Trump had earlier taken to Twitter to castigate both defense contractors for the high costs of the aircraft they were producing for the government.
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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2016
Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
On Wednesday, while at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., Trump met separately with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson.
“I think we’re looking to cut a tremendous amount of money off the price,” Trump said of the Air Force One project.
Muilenburg agreed that Boeing could build new specially modified 747s for “less than” the $4 billion initially projected.
“We’re going to get it done for less than that, and we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens,” Muilenburg said after his meeting with Trump. “I was able to give the president-elect my personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company.”
President-elect Donald Trump met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg where the two shared a 'open' dialogue,' just weeks after a public flap over the cost of the Air Force One project, AP reported Dec. 21 (AP video)
“This is a business that’s important to us. We work on Air Force One because it’s important to our country and we’re going to make sure that he gets the best capability and that it’s done affordably,” he said.
“We’re all focused on the same thing here,” Muilenburg said. “We’re going to make sure that we give our war fighters the best capability in the world and that we do it in a way that is affordable for our taxpayers. And [Trump’s] business head set around that is excellent. It was a terrific conversation — got a lot of respect for him. He’s a good man. And he’s doing the right thing.”
Trump did not have a Lockheed announcement to twin with his comments about Boeing. (Lockheed Martin later issued a statement: see below--Ed.)
“Well, we’re going to see,” he told reporters when asked about the F-35 program. “We’re going to see. Just beginning. It’s a dance. You know, it’s a little bit of a dance.”
“But we’re going to get the costs down and we’re going to get it done beautifully,” he added.
Trump praised both CEOs, saying, “These are great people. These are amazing people. I’m very impressed with them. And good negotiators, too.”
He called the F-35 “a program that is very, very expensive.”
I met some really great Air Force GENERALS and Navy ADMIRALS today, talking about airplane capability and pricing. Very impressive people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2016
On Wednesday, Trump also separately discussed aircraft pricing with senior military officials.
Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the F-35 program executive officer, defended the Joint Strike Fighter program in a briefing this week.
“I have no doubt that given the controversy on the F-35 program over the years, that there’s a perception that this program is out of control,” he said.
“That’s in the past. So, if given the opportunity, I would like to try and explain to the new administration that this is a vastly different program from 2011 on. … I’ll just lay the facts out on the table, and I’ll let them make their own judgments,” Bogdan said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Time.com reported Dec. 21 that “Eight generals and admirals, and the Pentagon’s top civilian procurer, met with Trump for more than two hours Wednesday to discuss ongoing and future defense contracts,” in addition to the Boeing and Lockheed CEOs.
“Military officials brought scale models of the three F-35 variants as part of their presentation. General Carlton Everhart was holding a binder with a photo of Air Force One on the cover as he walked into the club,” it added.)