President Trump ribbed Lockheed Martin over the cost of its F-35 fighter jets during a meeting with manufacturing CEOs on Thursday.Earlier this month, the defense giant agreed to slash the price of the 90 joint strike fighters it is selling to the federal government by over $700 million, following repeated criticism from Trump.
“Marillyn, you’ve gotten a lot of credit,” Trump said, addressing Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson. “You think [Hillary Clinton] would have asked for $700 million [in savings]? Oh boy, I assume you wanted her to win.”
“But you’re going to do great, and you’re going to make more planes,” he added.
Trump attacked the F-35 program on the campaign trail and further stepped up pressure on Lockheed Martin to come down on costs after he won the election.
“The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” Trump tweeted in December. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”
Lockheed Martin announced in February that it would sell the new batch of F-35s for a total of $8.5 billion, a nearly 8 percent decrease over the last batch of aircraft that was delivered.
The company credited Trump’s involvement with accelerating the negotiations and “driving down the price,” according to a statement.
During Thursday’s White House meeting, which is just the latest in a series of listening sessions with various business leaders, Trump also touted recent commitments by domestic automakers to invest in the U.S.
He mentioned General Motors Co.’s plan to invest an additional $1 billion in the U.S. and Ford Motor Co.’s decision to cancel a plant in Mexico and instead create new jobs in Michigan.
Trump pointed out that Ford CEO Mark Fields, who was in attendance at the meeting, had called the move a “vote of confidence” in the new president.
“They’ve actually stated a vote of confidence,” Trump told the room.