The F-35 program director says industry partners have made necessary adjustments for the controversially expensive effort. Pictured: U.S. Air Force personnel perform maintenance operations on F-35 Lightning II. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman James Hensley
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The F-35 program is not "out of control" as President-elect Donald Trump suggests, the head of the F-35 program office asserted.
F-35 executive director Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan maintained the program was going as planned in response to the incoming president's controversial tweet, which appeared to threaten the plane's funding.
"The F-35 program and cost is out of control. Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th," Trump tweeted on Dec. 12.
The Lockheed Martin-led effort has been characterized by numerous delays since its inception. Despite the setbacks, however, Bogdan contends the program's leaders have reined in the finances for the production of the 5th-generation fighter.
"I have no doubt, that given the controversy on the F-35 program over the years, that there's a perception that this program is out of control," Bogdan told reporters. "That's in the past."
The program director went on to say industry partners have made necessary adjustments and cut excessive expenditures. However, he also conceded the development phase of the program could face additional delays.
"I understand the new administration's position on wanting to get the best value for every dollar that the Department of Defense spends," Bogdan added. "The new administration, I believe, is putting everyone on notice. Not just industry, but the department on notice."
The U.S. Air Force also added there are more areas for the next administration to cut costs, but cautioned excessive cuts may negatively affect the fighter's capabilities in the future. Bogdan and his team have yet to meet with transition officials, Market Watch reports.