James Mattis Calls for Reviews of F-35, Presidential Aircraft Replacement Programs

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Defense Secretary James Mattis has called for separate assessments of Boeing’s Air Force One aircraft replacement program and the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 fighter aircraft after President Donald Trump raised concerns about the programs’ costs, Bloomberg reported Saturday.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said in a statement the reviews seek to “inform programmatic and budgetary decisions, recognizing the critical importance of each of these acquisition programs” and should start immediately, Nafeesa Syeed, Anthony Capaccio and Rick Clough write.

“We have been responsive in providing information to the Trump administration and we look forward to continuing that dialogue as this process moves forward,” Todd Blecher, a spokesman for Boeing, told Bloomberg in a phone interview.

Mattis said in a directive the deputy defense secretary will be responsible for the F-35 review that aims to identify ways on how to cut the fighter jet’s cost as well as compare the aircraft with Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet jet’s operational capabilities to determine whether the latter could be updated to serve as an alternative to the Navy’s F-35 version, Bloomberg reports.

The review of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program aims to evaluate areas that could be targeted for cost-reduction efforts such as aircraft power generation, communications platforms, cooling systems and autonomous operations, according to a report by Rebecca Kheel for The Hill.

The Government Accountability Office said in a March 2016 report the procurement of two new Air Force One planes, which are expected to be operational by 2023, could reach approximately $3.2 billion in total cost, the report added.

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