- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump took aim Monday at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program, saying on Twitter that the “cost is out of control,” and he will be looking to save money on the fighter jet and other military programs when he takes office.

“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,” Mr. Trump tweeted.

It was the second time in as many weeks that Mr. Trump took to Twitter to blast Pentagon spending.

Last week, he urged the cancellations of Boeing’s contract to build a new Air Force One fleet, which was followed by an abrupt but temporary drop in the company’s stock price.

Similarly, Lockheed Martin’s stock price took a hit, as shares fell more than 5 percent by noon Monday. The aerospace company’s market value dropped $4 billion after the tweet.

A week before Mr. Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election, the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin agreed to their ninth contract for 90 F-35 fighter jets after more than a year of negotiations, according to officials.

The contract was valued at up to $7.18 billion, and the company received an interim payment in November.

Mr. Trump pledged during the campaign to make better deals and save taxpayers money.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, quickly came to the defense of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters program.

“I will continue to fight for the F-35 program that is essential to American air superiority, our NATO allies, Israel’s common defense against Russia’s robust air assets and missiles, and other potential threats to American security across the globe,” he said in a statement. “Reducing unnecessary costs is a welcome and important effort, but it cannot detract from our continued commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter, and the edge these jets provide our military that is so critical to our national defense and our alliances abroad.”

Lockheed Martin and related contractors have a significant presence in Connecticut.

Trump transition team spokesman Jason Miller said the president-elect is sending a message to government contracts and American taxpayers.

“The clear message that is being sent is that the president-elect is going to fight to save taxpayers money at every turn,” Mr. Miller told reporters in a conference call. “That we are fighting for taxpayers was one of the key campaign promises for the presidential trail and it’s good that the president-elect is holding folks’ feet to the fire on this.”

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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