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Trump Criticizes Cost Of F-35 Fighter Jet Program

Pratt & Whitney
Fiona Hanson
AP for Pratt & Whitney
Visitors to the Farnborough Airshow in England inspect a full size model of the engine used to power the F-35 Lightning II aircraft, the most powerful engine ever fielded. It is made by Connecticut-based Pratt and Whitney.

President-elect Donald Trump is criticizing the pentagon’s new jet fighter. In a tweet, Trump calls the F-35 program out of control, and that billions of dollars will be saved once he takes office.

The jet engines for the F-35s are manufactured in Connecticut by Pratt and Whitney, one of the state’s largest employers. 

Each F-35 costs $100 million, not including the engine. The program has long been criticized for cost overruns, delays and design flaws. Bill Hartung, defense analyst at the Center for International Policy, says the F-35 contract is also sprawling with jobs at stake in almost every state. Jobs that Congress will try to protect.

"The president will have to stand up to that, or have an alternative program to create jobs that would offset whatever losses in the industry," Hartung said.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, worries that not having the program will affect the superiority of the American military.

“The efforts to cut costs and waste are welcome, but the F-35 is essential to American air superiority in this century. And air power and superiority saves lives on the battlefield,” Blumenthal said.

An aerospace industry group responded to Trump's criticism by saying defense contracting is a very complex and nuanced process suggesting it can't be summed up in a tweet.

Charles is senior reporter focusing on special projects. He has won numerous awards including an IRE award, three SPJ Public Service Awards, and a National Murrow. He was also a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and Third Coast Director’s Choice Award.