Mattis orders review of F-35, Air Force One programs

  • Mattis orders review of F-35, Air Force One programs

Mattis orders review of F-35, Air Force One programs

Aboard Air Force One on his first flight, US President Donald Trump has praised the presidential jet, calling it "beautiful" and a "nice plane". Additionally, the deputy secretary will engage in a parallel assessment comparing the F-35C and the F/A-18E/F capabilities in order to determine if the F/A-18E/F can be improved to provide a "competitive, cost effective, fighter aircraft alternative".

He also ordered a study of whether Boeing's older F/A-18 Super Hornet could be upgraded to provide a less costly alternative to the Lockheed fighter, a proposal defense analysts have said is probably unworkable given the different roles and capabilities of the two fighters.

"The goal of these reviews is to inform programmatic and budgetary decisions, recognizing the critical importance of each of these acquisition programs", said the statement.

Although Trump has criticised the entire F-35 programme, the review will take only the C variant into consideration, which accounts for the smallest share of Lockheed's programme of record. A Lockheed representative didn't respond to a request for comment.

On Friday, the Pentagon called the review a "prudent step".

Meanwhile, the F-35 has been labeled the most expensive acquisition program in Pentagon history, at a total of $400 billion for 2,457 planes.

The review of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program - the Pentagon's formal name for the Air Force One replacement - will aim to reduce the cost of the program by potentially lowering requirements in areas such as autonomy, power generation, cooling, survivability and communications, Mattis wrote in a second memo. A navy-blue Air Force One jacket was draped over the back of his chair. Then, the number would grow to 80 in fiscal 2019.

Michael Gilmore, the recently departed director of the Pentagon's testing office, said in a memo this month to senior Pentagon leaders that the Trump administration should "rigorously and comprehensively review" the F-35.