Of course, unsurprisingly in retrospect, Trump made those calls within listening range of Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing Co., Lockheed's chief rival. He also asked Boeing to price out to price-out costs of building a F-18 Super Hornet that could be comparable to competitor Lockheed Martin's F-35.
Gen. Christopher Bogdan told the House Armed Services tactical air and land forces subcommittee the two calls - one with just Trump on January 9 and a second on January 17 with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg - promoted the study order from Secretary of Defense James Mattis a week after Trump's inauguration.
If the cost of the F-35 program does not drop, Trump noted, the orders for the aircraft may be replaced with Boeing's F-18 Super Hornet fighter jet, which now has a stealth component. He appeared caught off-guard but heard at least Trump's end of the call, according to the people, who asked to remain anonymous discussing sensitive information..
President Trump today reiterated his concerns about the price of both the Air Force One and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, programs that have been in his cross hairs since late past year. 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.
Anyways, it's a great plane now.
Bogdan then had two follow-up calls with Trump, Bogdan said Thursday.
Boeing did compete with Lockheed to design and build the F-35 almost 20 years ago, when the fifth-generation fighter jet project was first starting. "Behavior that looks decisive in the business world can unhinge a military organization that depends on order and discipline".
Donald Trump's ascension to president of the United States has created more than its share of chaos, both in Washington D.C. and across the country.
Lockheed trimmed about $600 million from the F-35 program's cost in its most recent contract with the Pentagon, selling the fighter jets for under $100 million a piece, down from $102 million in an order from a few months ago.
Boeing and Lockheed Martin did not comment.
The U.S. Air Force, which plans to buy 1,763 of the F-35A model jets, would not fly Boeing's minimally stealthy "fourth-generation" Super Hornet, which is designed for aircraft carrier operations.