F-35 chief confirms phone call with Trump and Boeing CEO


F-35 jet, while the CEO of Lockheed's biggest competitor listened in, Bloomberg reported Thursday. In the Bloomberg report, Lockheed declined to comment and Boeing referred to its CEO's comments after his January meeting with Trump, in which he said they "made some great progress" in their talks.

Trump's first call with Bogdan was on January 9, Bloomberg reported.

Trump tweeted that he would ask Boeing to "price out" a comparable F/A-18 Super Hornet, even though the Super Hornet is a fourth-generation fighter and has fundamentally different capabilities than the fifth-generation F-35. Perhaps as problematic as having Lockheed's rival in the room during the call was the fact that Trump directly reached out to the F-35 program manager not once, but twice, about a contract finalized 16 years ago. It's one thing to call up a program head as the CEO of a corporation, but when you're the Commander-in-Chief going directly to a much lower subordinate in a system built directly upon the concept of following the proper chain-of-command, it causes mass confusion and an unraveling of the whole process. Thompson, who has also consulted for Lockheed Martin, pointed out that the kinds of decisive action admired in business "can unhinge a military organization that depends on order and discipline". Trump "asked a lot of very, very, very good questions", he said.

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"We discussed Air Force One, we discussed fighter aircraft", Muilenburg told reporters after the meeting. In prepared testimony, he said the jet's operating costs are decreasing, "making the F-35 more affordable each and every day". Moreover, in an effort to drive the fighter's costs down, the F-35 has been marketed to allies around the world, with production and maintenance contracts spread from the U.K.to Australia.

The first of those being, what are you doing to improve the affordability of the F-35 now and in the future and how can we be sure the taxpayers are getting the best value for their dollar and the second of those tasks was on the mix - the complimentary mix of Super Hornets, Advanced Super Hornets and F-35Cs on the deck of an aircraft carrier where he asked for a comparison of the capabilities and they are not completed yet.

The review directs Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to "oversee a review that compares F-35C and F/A-18 E/F operational capabilities and assesses the extent that F/A-18E/F improvements (an advanced Super Hornet) can be made in order to provide a competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative". Purchases would grow to 80 aircraft in fiscal 2019, and there's a pending "block buy" of 450 aircraft after that.