Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson met with Donald Trump in December, and it didn’t appear to go well.
“Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump said in a tweet after the meeting.
But on Friday, Hewson made another trek to Trump Tower and the meeting appeared to be favorable for the F-35’s future — and Lockheed’s thousands of employees in Fort Worth.
“We had the opportunity to talk to him about the F-35 program, and 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 to reporters. “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, and moreover it’s going to bring a lot of jobs to the United States.”
Curtailing the costs of the Department of Defense’s most expensive weapons program in history won’t lead to fewer jobs, according to Hewson.
“In fact, we are going to increase our jobs in Fort Worth by 1,800 jobs, and when you think about the supply chain across 45 states in the U.S. it’s going to be thousands and thousands of jobs,” Hewson said. “And 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, so it was a great meeting.”
This week has brought good news for Lockheed employees and the future of the F-35 in Fort Worth.
On Thursday, the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth was announced as a home for a squadron of F-35 jets.
“We selected the Air Force Reserve unit in Fort Worth because it is the location that meets all of the necessary training requirements at the lowest cost,” Deborah Lee James, secretary of the Air Force, said in a statement. “Additionally, the location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant.”
And Fort Worth Rep. Kay Granger, a fierce backer of the F-35 program whose congressional district would likely benefit from new jobs, was named chair of the powerful Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense on Wednesday. The move puts Granger in charge of the annual defense bill, which includes funding for the F-35.
The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Star-Telegram reporters Max Baker and Anna Tinsley contributed to this report.