Trump Meets With Boeing, Lockheed CEOs, DOD Brass

RSS

President-elect Donald Trump met with the CEOs of top aerospace firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin as well as a group of top Pentagon brass on Wednesday as part of an apparent campaign to trim the fat from military weapons programs.

The effort already appears to be paying off. The meeting with Boeing head Dennis Muilenburg elicited a personal promise that the company would deliver a new Air Force One presidential aircraft for less than $4 billion – the figure that led Trump to slam the program for "out of control" costs in a now-infamous tweet

“We’re going to get it done for less than that and we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens,” Muilenburg said after the meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, according to video posted by the Associated Press.  “I was able to give the President-elect my personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing company.”

Speaking with reporters after a separate meeting with top Pentagon leaders at Mar-a-Lago the same day, Trump vowed again to cut “tremendous amounts of money off the price” of the new Air Force One, saying he thought his conversation with Muilenburg was productive. 

Trump explicitly called out Lockheed's controversial F-35 as well – another program he has criticized in recent weeks for “out of control” costs.  

“We’re trying to get costs down, primarily the F-35,” Trump said. “That program is very, very expensive.”

Asked whether he got any concessions from Lockheed on the price of the fifth-generation fighter in his earlier meeting with CEO Marilyn Hewson, Trump said negotiations are “just beginning,” but promised to reduce costs on the aircraft.  

“It’s a dance, it’s a little bit of a dance,” he said. “But we’re going to get the costs down and we’re going to get it done beautifully.”

Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, the chief of the F-35 Joint Program Office, was one of the generals to meet with Trump on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

The meetings also included Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Mobility Command Chief Gen. Carlton Everhart, Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. James Syring, Air Force nuclear weapons chief Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, along with several other Pentagon acquisition officials, according to a pool report.  

Trump praised the Pentagon leaders, calling them “amazing people, I’m very impressed with them.”

“And good negotiators, too,” he added.

Discuss this Blog Entry 35

on Dec 22, 2016

It would be a spanking time for those who did a slappy job at tax payers expense!!

on Dec 22, 2016

I doubt that Gen. Bogdan manages to maintain his assignment after the inauguration of President Trump ...

on Dec 22, 2016

For sure Bogdan is cleaning his office!

on Dec 22, 2016

General Bogdan has done an excellent job. One of the findings that led to his assignment was that the program managers were being changed out too frequently, leading to discontinuities in management. It would be extremely stupid to replace Bogdan now that the program is in its final years. Not that Trump isn't stupid enough to do just that - he most certainly is.

This is all about Trump plumping his own feathers and demanding that all the peons around and below him bow down and stroke his massive ego.

The $4B pricetag on AF 1 was never a price tag, it was just an auditor estimate on a program that hasn't even had its requirements determined yet, let alone gone to a final design and manufacturing bid process ... so it's an easy throw-away line for Boeing to say "we'll get it done for less than that". And that of course is exactly what Trump wants to take credit for, just like his inflated numbers on the Carrier jobs "saved" that he got called out on by the union chief (and which then prompted yet another stupid tweetstorm from the braggart-loudmouth-elect).

Trump is a blowhard salesman, tells people what they want to hear, and then the instant it's no longer convenient to his business interests, it goes into the instant memory black hole. Just like his "drain the swamp" meme was dropped into the instant memory black hole yesterday, because, of course, he is busy filling the swamp to its fullest extent ever seen in history now, while still a month before his inauguration.

on Dec 22, 2016

OK, we get it. You've made up your mind before his inauguration that Donald Trump is a terrible person who will be a terrible President. Get over it. That's why the Constitution doesn't allow anybody except Congress to make laws, so a bad President can't do so much damage. One of the reasons our nation is in a mess right now is because we had a White House occupant who got away with making his own laws - 125 years ago, he would have been impeached two weeks after the second time he tried that. Perhaps at this time, a "blowhard salesman" is what this nation needs, if he will sell the people on the virtues and benefits of observing the Constitution as written and originally intended.

As for the Air Force One deal, you are probably the only person in the country who doesn't believe that without a little arm-twisting Boeing would indeed have billed the taxpayers for more than $4 billion if nobody in a position of power had spoken up and insisted on a better deal.

on Dec 22, 2016

DTRT.......the man's not even in office yet and you're already griping about him! You must be one of those Liberal "experts" my daddy told me about 60 years ago! He said not to pay attention. They get real loud but seldom if ever have any solutions to our problems. Have a nice day!

on Dec 22, 2016

Really? Name one defense program under General Bogdan or his predecessor that has been on time and on budget! Lockheed Martin has walked all over the US tax payers not only with the F-22, F-35 but also with every other new technology program it has been awarded in the last 20 years. The pentagon has done a terrible, terrible job keeping costs under control and Congress and the President have done nothing substantive to rain in out of control military industrial complex. Grow up. Trump won if Hillary had won, you would have been saluting her for doing what Trump has been lambasted for.

on Dec 23, 2016

LMCO is acting like a bad plumer you call to fix the leak and you pay but the leak is still not fixed and the damages are spreading!!!! Then to fix the same leak again you call him several times and the problem is still present and the consequences are still present and spreading fast!! So Bogdan has done a terrible job in the private sector he would have been yankes or his company would have been seized for bankrupcy

on Dec 22, 2016

Trump seems to be as easily manipulated as Obama was in his initial time in office.
What is worrying though is that Trump seems to do what he knows best, push down prices of suppliers, when he really needs to step onto the political scene and lead.

on Dec 22, 2016

Here again, I am not sure that the top Pentagon leaders did a good job. Look at the billions of over budget and wasted money and time. Top managers should first learn that every requirement has a cost and Pentagon leaders like any others shall refrain from over-specifying. Before starting a program, have a full understanding of all the requirements and eliminate all what is over specifying, not really needed, micro-management and nice to have. Lat but not least, when a program starts, make sure that ALL requirements are properly defined, don't leave anything To Be Defined. Once done properly, then yes you can congratulate the top leaders for a job well done.

on Dec 22, 2016

@bernard Any aircraft procured by the military has a design lifespan of at least 20 years. This is required because of all the procurement hoops and delays baked into the process by Congress and other strap-hangers.

During that time, the state-of-the-art in aviation and avionics technology with change dramatically, yet the aircraft must be capable of being upgraded in order to ensure its combat survival. No program manager can "make sure that ALL requirements are properly defined."

Taking a very simplified example, Bernard, 20 years ago did you require your home to be built with Wi-Fi hotspots? Or RJ-232 connectors in each room? Or Bluetooth charging ports in the electrical outlets? Or an electrical outlet in the garage to plug in your electric car? Of course you didn't. Yet you are demanding that decisions of that nature be 'cast in contract concrete' TODAY for aircraft that will be operating in the 2040s.

I am absolutely certain that the original contracts for the B-52 did not include the ability to launch GPS-guided weapons or to have the tail gunner position to be operated by remote control. Nor did they specify a requirement for encrypted communications systems linked to orbiting satellites with the ability to communicate in real-time to troops on the ground and the field commander of those troops.

Both you and Donald Trump are making a similar mistake: you are thinking in the short-term and of purchasing disposable consumer goods, not long-term and non-disposable long-lived capital goods, which must grow and adapt over time in order to have any worth.

Finally, the R+D costs necessary for any cutting edge aviation product must be paid for: either by government research contract (now described as corporate welfare) or in the price of the item purchased. Given that the volume of products in military procurement are relatively small (at best hundreds of aircraft rather than millions of cellphones), the R+D costs must increase as a percentage of total delivered cost. In the case of Air Force One, the additional fail-safe engineering costs to incorporate the modifications must be spread across exactly TWO items. Unless you are suggesting the sale of additional aircraft and associated classified technology to other nations (Russia? North Korea? China?), these mandatory costs must be reflected in the purchase price of those two delivered aircraft.

on Dec 22, 2016

I concur with EVV_homedrome. Freedom is not free, nor is developing advanced technology to protect the homeland. Does anyone remember the cost over-runs of the C-17 program? Although "just a cargo aircraft" stuff happens. The value and airworthiness of the plane is now being realized all these years later. One general lost his job as well as others. However they knew the greatness the new aircraft would bring and sacrificed themselves for the good of the country. Building enough of them is a debate for another time.

on Dec 22, 2016

I don't think Donald Trump denies the importance of system upgrades during development and deployment. Like many people who have followed the F-35, he's questioning whether the taxpayer is getting a fair price for what the system is supposed to do.

I would not be surprised if in the negotiations with Boeing he gave up some of the passenger amenities as unnecessary in order to reduce the cost.

on Dec 22, 2016

The Boeing company must be supported for their nice work.

on Dec 22, 2016

To be correct, your sentence should end with the word 'sarcasm' in parenthesis.

on Dec 22, 2016

How come Trump found excessive spending but Obama had a cabinet and did not see it. You had an article about F35 from an air force general complaining about the F35 problems and nothing was done..

on Dec 22, 2016

Mr. Obama was mentored by a Communist agitator as a child, went to law school and spent his career as a community organizer and politician. He has very little practical experience in business. He surrounded himself with sycophants with similar backgrounds.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, has spent almost all his life in business, and has a keen eye for cost versus benefit. Also, he'll listen to differing views if they are intelligently presented.

on Dec 22, 2016

MNIce.....well said! It'll be refreshing to have a Cabinet made up of successful businessmen/women instead of a bunch of lawyers, Chicago cronies, and career bureaucrats!

on Dec 22, 2016

Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida.... not bad as a whipping post for executives!

on Dec 22, 2016

The meeting and DT chest thumping is 10% substance and 90% puff. It's like CHP buying 10 or fewer radar systems and 100-500 signs about radar enforcement. (And, yes, I know that CHP is prohibited from using radar, all the more to the point... you get the idea.)

on Dec 22, 2016

Even if your "10% substance" assumption is correct (and I think you're seriously underestimating DT's business acumen), that's 10% more than our current president has been able to produce during his term. When was anyone called to the White House during the last 8 years for this kind of meeting? But then efficiency hasn't been high on the list for anyone in the Executive branch over that time period.

on Dec 22, 2016

General Bogdan has done an excellent job of making excuses and keeping a program going that should have been killed long ago, have to give him credit for that. As far as future upgrades for the F-35 goes, in ten years from now UAVs will be in service that will do the same job better and cheaper, so there will be little upgrading of that airframe needed. That is part of the reason the F-35 is such a poor value, it has been in development for so long the world has passed it by before it is even ready to go to work (oh, right, I forgot it's "combat ready" but for some reason isn't in syria or afghanistan). Trump will have a real challenge with the F-35 having vendors in 45 states, that's a lot of reps and senators to upset.

on Dec 22, 2016

In my view, The Donald has an advantage over Obama that must not be forgotten. Come February, 2017, Obama will retire - there are a number of positions for him to fill, (a) A backroom lawyer, (b) A biographic author. (c) A street musician. (d) An ambassador to Kenya ... to mention just a few.
Now, no matter how successful will be The Donald's presidency, when he retires, he will resume the position of billionaire again.
This may appear to be a humorous comment ... but be very careful what you wish for.

on Dec 23, 2016

The F-35 is a world wide endeavor, with 3-4 build locations. The equipment requirements were vast, and the production lots way to small. The Sensor & System Fusion has never been done before. I worked several new aircraft programs for L-M & Boeing, and both military services want systems with :No Money" to pay for it now. No comparison between 4th and 5th Generation war fighter aircraft.

on Dec 22, 2016

Does anyone honestly believe that in a few hours by the pool at Mar-a-lago that all the intricacies of AF 1 or the F-35 could be discussed and understood by DT and he could uncover cost savings and waste? Unlikely, but as long as he can be "seen" to be doing something rather than actually "doing" something he will declare success and take credit for it and call his predecessors stupid. Feed the ego daily - F.T.E.D

on Dec 22, 2016

You don't honestly believe everything was decided yesterday do you? This is the beginning of the conversation not the end.

Trump hasn't even been inaugurated and he's already producing results. He's 70-yrs old and running rings around Obama. The business acumen he displays compared to Obama is simply staggering.

I don't know how any fair minded individual could criticize Trumps desire to reduce cost.

on Dec 22, 2016

I don't think for a minute that Mr. Trump went into those meetings without first getting a thorough background on the aircraft programs. That is essential for effective negotiations. I don't think he'd waste his time and that of the other parties to the meetings for mere public impressions. You forget that he's a businessman first, not a professional politician.

on Dec 22, 2016

WoW ! Well that was spoken like a true Obama Fan !!!

on Dec 22, 2016

It is interesting to me that the GAO estimate for the Air Force One replacement was somewhere in the $3.2 billion range. The Donald pumped that up to $4 billion on his own. Now he can "negotiate" to a much better price of $3.2 billion and take credit for the false savings.

on Dec 22, 2016

The Donald micromanages businesses (a la Carrier) while the world collapses around him. Is this what we are to expect? Nero and a fiddle come to mind. Or arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

on Dec 22, 2016

CyberTom, I am not criticizing his desire to cut costs, I hope he does it and I wish him well. I don't respect his tactics but I do want him to succeed. I just find the theatrics around him unconscionable, there's so much "noise" that comes out him and his people with very little substance. It seems to be a "Hey everybody look what I did today" parade all the time. I would rather he just got on with the job and let us all know when he's actually done something.

on Dec 22, 2016

Trump is going after the low hanging fruit, sure it's over priced, isn't everything.

on Dec 22, 2016

Trump asked Boeing to price out some new super hornets, seems he's serious about letting LM eat the F-35 program-maybe old tiny hands is smarter than we thought!

on Dec 23, 2016

There is nothing that can be done to make a F18E/F/G last more than a few seconds in contested Airspace. The F-35 has won all of the "Red & Green Flag" exercises to date as well as the IOC check. The Marine maintenance folks are super impressed with the (AILS) system, even with its few glitches.

on Jan 13, 2017

I currently work for the company...in fact as an Estimating & Pricing Specialist in OKC and work the current Executive Fleet including VC-25 (AF 1).
The numbers being thrown around as to how much the new version is going to cost simply isn't accurate. Its an unsubstantiated figure arrived at by a government auditor in an obsure report that was latched onto by DJT to get hype. In fact there is currently no production contract. There is an R & D contract to look at risks-but the production contract that everyone is in a tizzy about hasn't been written or negotiated. No one knows how much it's going to cost.

Please or Register to post comments.

What's Ares?

Aviation Week editors blog their personal views on the defense industry.

Blog Archive
Penton Corporate

Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×