(Washington Times) Military reformers in the nation’s capital may have found a soul mate in a billionaire real estate magnate who takes a keen interest in what things cost, including big weapons systems.
The reformers — an alliance of watchdog activists, technocrats and former government auditors — have long bemoaned the delays and cost overruns that plague the Pentagon’s procurement of ships, guns and planes.
Now, President-elect Donald Trump seems to have joined them. He has taken to Twitter to blast the titans of defense contracting for what he sees as overpriced weapons, suggesting a procurement overhaul may be a top priority to Defense Secretary-nominee James Mattis.
“To say the least, we are a bit stunned, albeit pleasantly so,” said Thomas P. Christie, the Pentagon’s former top weapons tester who has long advocated lower-cost alternatives.
Mr. Trump met Dec. 21 at his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior officers who will oversee the procurement side of a $619 billion defense budget this year.
Before the Florida summit, Mr. Trump tweeted a cancellation warning to Boeing Co. about the long-term costs of two new Air Force One planes. Then he took on the costliest weapon system in U.S. history: the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. The procurement history of the joint strike fighter jet is so pocked with trouble that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, Arizona Republican, has called it a “scandal and tragedy.”
Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, as the Defense Department’s largest contractors based on revenue, according to Defense News…