US President-elect Donald Trump met Boeing and Lockheed Martin CEOs to negotiate defense spending costs in the Pentagon budget.
Trump held meetings on Wednesday with generals, military procurers and two of the largest defense contractors in an effort to control costs, Time reported Wednesday.
The discussion followed tweets from the President-elect opposing to the cost of a new Air Force One replacement and the estimated $1.5 trillion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
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. Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg also met with Trump.
“Trying to bring costs down — costs,” Trump told reporters after the meetings. “Primarily the F-35, trying to get the costs down for a program that is very, very expensive,” Trump added. Trump indicated that he has not yet secured cost concessions from Hewson.
"I had a productive meeting with President-elect Trump this afternoon. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the importance of the F-35 program and the progress we've made in bringing the costs down.” Hewson added.
The F-35 is a critical program to our national security, and I conveyed our continued commitment to delivering an affordable aircraft to our U.S. military and our allies, Hewson added.
“I appreciated the opportunity to discuss the importance of the F-35 program and the progress we’ve made in bringing the costs down,” she said.
It followed a tweet days earlier by the President-elect claiming that the presidential-aircraft replacement would cost $4 billion and called for its cancellation.
Trump’s meeting with Boeing CEO Muilenburg was more productive, as the airplane manufacturer guaranteed Trump that the project to replace the aging, heavily modified Boeing 747-200s that serve as Air Force One with more modern 747-800s would cost less than $4 billion.
“We haven’t actually started the build of the airplane yet, but once we finalize the requirements and make sure that it’s affordable we’ll launch on building the aircraft,” Muilenburg said. “We’ve got a hot production line and we’re ready to go.”
Trump added later, “I think we’re looking to cut a tremendous amount of money off the program.”