- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 13, 2016

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s three Republicans in Congress are largely unconcerned about President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the $400 billion F-35 fighter jet program.

Trump called the program’s costs “out of control” in a Monday tweet and said billions in military expenses will be saved when he is president.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young issued statements expressing confidence that Trump will acknowledge the value of the F-35 program after Inauguration Day, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (https://bit.ly/2hANKqS) reported Tuesday.

“I have had numerous conversations with senior military leaders, both before and after the election, about the critical need for a fifth-generation fighter like the F-35. And in every one of those conversations the experts tell me that killing this program is not an option,” Murkowski said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan emphasized the tactical benefits of the F-35s, according to his statement. Trump did raise legitimate concerns over costs and delays, he said.

“I will fight to make sure that American taxpayers get their money’s worth out the F-35 program while also ensuring that our nation’s warfighters get one of the most capable, versatile, and lethal aircrafts ever produced,” Sullivan said.

The military is trying to lower program costs, Murkowski said.

“It is understandable that these issues are on the president-elect’s radar screen, given the prominence of the F-35 program, but on further examination I am confident that the new administration will understand the value that the F-35 brings to the fight,” she said.

The new fighters are expected to generate $500 million in construction at Eielson Air Force Base.

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This story has been corrected to show the $500 million will be spent at Eielson Air Force Base, not across the Interior.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com


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