Trump praises fighter jet unrelated to relief efforts while on Puerto Rico trip
President Trump on Tuesday launched into an extended appraisal of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter during a visit to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, even though the fighter jet isn’t involved in the rescue and recovery efforts there.
The president had just received an update on runways open on the island — slammed by two back-to-back hurricanes earlier this month — when he started discussing the F-35.
“So amazing that we’re ordering hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of new airplanes for the Air Force, especially the F-35. Do you like the F-35?” Trump asked the military officials in attendance.
“I said, how does it do it in fights? And how do they do in fights with the F-35? They said we do very well,” he said. “You can’t see it. Literally you can’t see it. So it’s hard to fight a plane that you can’t see, right?”
The Pentagon has not sent any F-35s — fighter jets made for combat situations and not rescue missions — to help in the hurricane relief efforts.
Trump further praised his administration’s efforts to lower the purchase price of the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jet.
“That’s an expensive plane you can’t see. And as you probably heard we cut the price very substantially, something other administrations would never have done, that I can tell you,” he said.
Trump has repeatedly brought up the cost of the F-35, first in December when he criticized the jet’s price as “out of control.”
Lockheed announced in February that it would sell the new batch of F-35s for a total of $8.5 billion, a nearly 8 percent decrease over the last batch of aircraft that was delivered.
Shortly thereafter and several times since, Trump took credit for the driving down the price per aircraft.
Analysts and Pentagon insiders, however, have said the price would have come down already, regardless of Trump’s involvement.
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