In a move to combine budget discipline with the administration’s planned military build-up, newly confirmed Secretary of Defense Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis has ordered the Pentagon to review former President Barack Obama’s costly $379 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
He issued the review to “inform programmatic and budgetary decisions,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said in a statement Friday, according to Bloomberg. “This action is also consistent with the president’s guidance to provide the strongest and most efficient military possible for our nation’s defense.”
There were two ways Mattis could potentially reduce current expenses related to the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program, according to Bloomberg.
He could either slash the F-35 program’s costs or replace the program altogether by upgrading the operational capabilities of Boeing’s F/A-18E/F fighters so as to make them “a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative,” as Mattis himself reportedly noted in a directive.
If the F-35 program were terminated, it would affect the more than 100 Southern California suppliers who provide parts and software to Lockheed Martin, the corporation that produces the jets — not that the company appeared to be worried.
“We are confident such a thorough and objective analysis will show that only the F-35, with its advanced stealth and sensors, can meet the 21st century air superiority requirements of all of our military services,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
In a separate directive, Defense Secretary Mattis ordered that the Air Force One program be reviewed as well.
Since December, President Donald Trump has repeatedly targeted both the Air Force One and F-35 programs in tweets and speeches. He has also met with executives from both Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
The new administration clearly cares deeply about cutting costs sensibly, perhaps because unlike the previous White House, it recognizes that money does not grow on trees. Neither do competent leaders like Donald Trump and James Mattis, for that matter.
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H/T The Daily Caller