Lockheed Martin's chief executive urged President-elect Donald Trump on Friday to save the defense giant’s F-35 stealth fighter program, which the Republican has blasted for "tremendous cost and cost overruns."
Lockheed chief executive Marillyn Hewson journeyed to Trump Tower to make the case for the sophisticated fighter jet, which employs thousands of employees in Cobb County who build their center wing assemblies at Lockheed’s sprawling plant.
"I certainly share his views that we need to get the best capability to our men and women in uniform and we have to get it at the lowest possible price," Hewson said after the meeting.
"So I'm glad I had the opportunity to tell him that we are close to a deal that will bring the cost down significantly from the previous lot of aircraft to the next lot of aircraft."
In tweets last month, Trump said he was frustrated over “tremendous cost and cost overruns” for the jet and that he asked Boeing to price-out the F-18 Super Hornet. It was the latest example of Trump lashing out over defense contracts; he also criticized the potential high cost of the next Air Force One.
State Rep. Stacey Evans, a Smyrna Democrat, wrote Trump an open letter two weeks ago urging him to think twice about scrapping the fighter jet program.
“‘Never forget who we’re working for,’ is scrawled on the wall of the Lockheed plant in Marietta, Georgia," Evans wrote Trump. "We should not send our military men and women off to protect our nation in an inferior aircraft if we can afford it.”
A chorus of lawmakers from both parties have also urged Trump not to abandon the F-35 program, which is spread out among Lockheed plants and subcontractors in 45 states. Hewson told reporters she emphasized to Trump that doing so would cost thousands of jobs.
"I also had the opportunity to give him some ideas on things we think we can do to continue to drive the cost down on the F-35 program," she said, "so it was a great meeting."