WASHINGTON: Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson is getting much more face time with the next president than she ever expected, all as part of a fascinating ballet as Donald Trump tries to force weapons costs down before he even gets sworn in.
“I just had a great meeting with President-elect Trump on the F-35 program. I share his view that we must deliver this critical capability for our men and women in uniform at the lowest possible cost to our taxpayers,”Hewson said in a statement after meeting Trump for the second time since the election.
Trump, in keeping with his always intriguing negotiating style, has threatened Lockheed Martin that he might replace the F-35 with a revamped F-18 Super Hornet made by that other defense company, Boeing. Then he came out with a much softer version of that idea, at the same promising “big things” for the program. A source with access to Trump told me today to expect similar behavior throughout Trump’s presidency. “It’s how he works,” the source said.
Hewson, a very savvy operator in her own right, told Trump pretty much exactly what you might think he’d want to hear: we’re pushing prices down and we’re going give you lots of American jobs. “I told him that we are close to a deal on a new contract that reduces the price for the next 90 aircraft significantly,” she said. “This deal would also create 1,800 new jobs at our Fort Worth, Texas, facility and thousands more throughout our U.S. supply base.”
Hewson’s statement ended with this a sentence that could be read in so many ways, but I’m sure was meant in a direct and sincere manner: “I look forward to continuing to work together with President-elect Trump to drive the costs down on this critical military capability.” You bet she looks forward to working with her biggest customer.