President-elect Donald Trump's attack on the F-35 stealth fighter jet isn't the first time the billionaire has lashed out at one of the military's biggest and most expensive acquisition programs.
Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is several years behind schedule and expected to cost upward of $1.5 trillion by the end of the 55-year life of the program.
"The F-35 program and cost is out of control," Trump tweeted Monday. "Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th."
"Trump has clearly learned that bully pulpit of Twitter can be pretty powerful," said Cai von Rumohr, a defense stock analyst at Cowen. "Defense is in essence a political business, so if the president or president-elect of the United States says you're asking too much money, people worry."
As a presidential candidate, Trump also was critical of the F-35 program. Last year, he criticized the F-35 as "not very good."
After Trump's election, Lockheed is known to have held meetings with Trump's transition team to discuss the F-35. Those meetings were reportedly designed to head off any attempts to downsize the program.
Responding to Trump's latest cost criticism on the F-35, a Lockheed Martin official said the defense contractor understands the president-elect's concerns about affordability and adds that the company has invested millions of dollars already to reduce the fifth-generation fighter's price by more than 60 percent since its original estimate.
"These are more of the sort of tactics to let the industry know that he's going to take these seriously and that the (Trump) administration is going to review these things closely," said John Kenkel, a defense industry expert at PA Consulting Group, a management consulting firm.
Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., also has been a critic of the program. Last month, he wrote a letter to the Pentagon criticizing what he described as an additional $1 billion cost overrun on the F-35.
Lockheed has delivered 184 U.S. and international F-35 fighter aircraft. The company said the program creates about 146,000 U.S. jobs across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Besides Lockheed, other manufacturing partners in the program are Northrop Grumman, United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems.
The F-35 is expected to have a lifespan of more than 30 years, and analysts suggest it's needed since the Chinese and Russians also are developing fifth-generation fighter capability.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is being acquired by three branches of the U.S. military — the Air Force, Navy and Marines — also is one of the few military programs using a global supply chain and common industrial pool to build and service. On Monday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Israel as it received its first two F-35s.