Trump and the F-35 deal

Texas Tribune:
Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson met with President-elect Donald Trump in New York on Friday, and emerged from the meeting promising to reduce the costs of the company's signature fighter plane and to add 1,800 jobs at its Fort Worth facility.

That aircraft, the F-35, is a key economic driver in Fort Worth, and Trump has repeatedly threatened Lockheed's hold on the massive fighter plane program. Despite anxiety in North Texas over the plane's future in a Trump administration, Hewson said the Fort Worth plant was on track to add jobs.

"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 told reporters after the meeting, according to a pool report. "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."

"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," she added. "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."

Lockheed Martin stock rose slightly Friday in the early afternoon after Hewson's remarks. But it was a rocky week for the company - and the plane. Unsolicited, Trump implicitly threatened the plane again at a Wednesday news conference, echoing a series of tweets from December.

Trump mentioned Boeing's F-18 plane in the same sentence as the F-35 on Wednesday, which was widely interpreted in the defense world as an implicit threat to pit the two rival planes and the companies that build them against each other.
There is more.

Trump has indicated his main issues are keeping government cost down and creating jobs.  Lockheed Martin apparently got that message and responded in a way that will make it harder for Trump to cut the program.  He will probably hold their feet to the fire by keeping talk of an updated F-18 out there.

The Texas congressional delegation is going to have to work to keep this contract.  But it looks like the deal has already been sweetened in order to meet with his objections.  I have seen other companies also announce job plans since Trump won the election.  They may have had the plans all along, but they see it as clearly in the companies' interest to show they got the message on US based jobs.

Trump is bringing his "art of the deal" to the presidency.  So far, Mexico is the only one upset about it.


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