Yuma County

Trump: F-35 program and costs are 'out of control'

YUMA, Ariz. - "The F-35 Program and cost is out of control," posted President-elect Trump on Twitter on Monday morning. "Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."

President-elect Donald Trump is singling out the F-35 Joint Striker Fighter Program in his pledge to curb government spending. 

The program is considered the Defense Department's most expensive weapons program.

Trump isn't alone in his criticisms, in April, Arizona Senator John McCain called the program, "both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance." 

News 11 reached out to officials at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma who said they couldn't speculate on possible situations.

However, officials at the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Public Affairs Office said they're standing by the aircraft. The statement reads:

"The Marine Corps invested in the F-35 program several years ago, and we are ramping up to full production in the very near future. We were the first service to declare the F-35 operational, and have continued to prove its immense, unpatrolled capabilities throughout the past year and a half. The F-35B is a true force multiplier; it will meet current and future threats at a level that assures the Marine Corps' ability to access high-threat areas on a moment's notice. The single aircraft can accomplish critical combat information to friendly troops on the ground. This aircraft and the way our pilots fly it and continue to expand on its capabilities is incredible and we stand by it."

Currently, there are two F-35 squadrons at MCAS Yuma, VMFA-121 and VMFA 211. They currently have about 10 F-35's each but will eventually have about 16 each, according to Marine Corps officials. Officials say, "each squadron has roughly 300 marines, including pilots and support personnel who facilitate operations, maintenance, administrative and other support functions."

In another statement to News 11, representatives at Lockheed Martin, the maker of the fighter jet, said they welcome the opportunity to address any questions the president-elect has about the program. They added that they, "plan on investing hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to reduce the cost of sustaining the airplane over its lifespan." 

 


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