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IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR PRATT & WHITNEY - The Pratt & Whitney powered F-35 Lightning II hovers in front of crowds during its first solo appearance at the Farnborough Air Show on Tuesday 12th July 2016. The F-35 is slated to replace aging fighter aircraft from nine partner countries who have invested in the programme. Specifically, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, Israel, Japan, and the Republic of Korea are acquiring the aircraft. (Fiona Hanson/AP Images for Pratt & Whitney)

Did Donald Trump really reduce the cost of the F-35 fighter jet?


Did Donald Trump really reduce the cost of the F-35 fighter jet?

WATCH | What's the truth behind Trump's claim of saving money on the latest order of F-35 jets?

President Donald Trump went to Newport News, Virginia, to speak about his plans for the military. Even before his speech, Trump had already taken credit for driving down the cost of the F-35 fighter jet. The acquisition of military equipment is not something in which the president is usually involved.  So is Trump’s involvement helpful? 

President Trump patted himself on the back during his recent speech to Congress for driving down the cost of the F-35 jet fighter. The futuristic jet’s total acquisition cost is $379 billion.

We've saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price.
Donald Trump

But some analysts doubt Trump really reduced the cost of the new planes.

“The reduction in unit cost with the new lot is not in any way due to Trump, since it was caused by a bunch of developments that happened well before he was president," Benjamin Friedman of the CATO Institute told Circa.

Those negotiations were started under former President Obama. So what’s Trump talking about then?

As president-elect, Trump attacked the F-35’s cost overruns and production delays and tweeted that he was looking at introducing more competition into the contracting process as a way to put pressure on Lockheed Martin, the company building the futuristic military plane, to lower the price.

And the CEO of BAE Systems, a company who helps Lockheed Martin produce the jets, says that Trump did help lower the price. The company told Bloomberg that, “...President Trump’s intervention had acted as a catalyst to accelerate negotiations and agree significant price reductions over the previous contract.”  

Something that some analysts believe was to be expected once Trump turned his focus towards the jet.

“When you have the senior executive of the United States engaging directly with corporate America... it will only help those programs either cut costs or increase delivery, or both," John Venable of the Heritage Foundation told Circa.

So clearly this isn’t an either, or situation, Trump as president did exert pressure on manufacturers, and the price of the newest jets did decrease for two of the three branches of the military procuring the F-35, so like every success, this one seems to have many causes.

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