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Boeing CEO says Air Force One to cost under US$4b

Thursday, December 22, 2016 - 07:15

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Boeing Co chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg said he told President-elect Donald Mr Trump on Wednesday that his company can build a new version of Air Force One for less than US$4 billion, after the Republican criticised the cost of the plane.

[TRENTON, New Jersey] Boeing Co chief executive officer Dennis Muilenburg said he told President-elect Donald Mr Trump on Wednesday that his company can build a new version of Air Force One for less than US$4 billion, after the Republican criticised the cost of the plane.

Mr Muilenberg met with Mr Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday and told reporters afterward that he shares common interests with the president-elect.

Mr Trump has criticised the Pentagon's budget to buy the new 747 jumbos and outfit them with safeguards ranging from anti-missile defenses to withstanding the shockwaves from a nuclear blast.

"We're going to get it done for less than that, and we're committed to working together to make sure that happens," Mr Muilenburg said as he left the president-elect's Florida compound. "I was able to give the president-elect my personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company."

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The CEO of another major defense contractor Mr Trump has criticised, Lockheed Martin Corp's Marillyn Hewson, will meet with Mr Trump later, his aides said.

Mr Trump has said the government should cancel a contract with Boeing to build a new version of the president's aircraft and that costs for Lockheed's F-35 fighter jet are "out of control".

The Pentagon has rebutted Mr Trump's criticism of the troubled F-35. Lieutenant General Christopher Bogdan, who heads the office responsible for developing and acquiring the fighter jet, told reporters on Monday that the project has "basically been on schedule" and "on budget" since 2011.

The plane, the most expensive weapon system ever, has suffered a series of delays and missteps blamed on its complicated technologies, including stealth capabilities and versatility. Different configurations of the US$379 billion Joint Strike Fighter are supposed to become the mainstays of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

A spokesman for Lockheed declined to comment.

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