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Trump Criticizes Cost Of F-35 Fighter Jet Program

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ArjanL via iStock
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Lockheed F-35A Lightning II at airshow Luchtmachtdagen

On Monday President-elect Donald Trump criticized the price tag of the F-35 fighter jet. If the program is downsized that could affect Hill Air Force Base where a fleet of those planes is maintained.

On Monday morning, Trump Tweeted: “The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”

The jet program has faced ongoing cost overruns. According to a government report in April, the F-35 is the Department of Defense’s most costly program, totaling nearly $400 billion nationally.

Here in Utah, the F-35 plays a major role at Hill Air Force Base. According to a statement from the base, Hill received over $120 million dollars for their F-35 program. They anticipate it will support several hundred jobs for airmen at the base and maintenance personnel at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch quickly reacted to Trump’s comments. In a prepared audio statement, the state’s senior senator said he would continue to engage the president-elect on the importance of the F-35 and the role Hill Air Force Base plays in that mission.

"In future conversations I plan to emphasize the superior capabilities of the F-35 and the indispensable role that the aircraft plays in the national defense strategy," Hatch said. 

The Defense Department has a contract with manufacturer Lockheed Martin to make the F-35. After Trump’s comment, the company’s stock fell by several percentage points. That’s similar to what happened when Trump recently called out Boeing over the cost of the presidential jet Air Force One last week.

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