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After Trump tweet, Phoenix-area mayor wants budget meeting on F-35 jets

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, file photo, an F-35 jet arrives at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base, in northern Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

PHOENIX — A Phoenix-area mayor said she wants to meet with federal budget planners of the F-35 jet after President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that costs have run out of control.

“I want to have a full conversation with all of those who will be reviewing the budget of the F-35 project,” Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott said. “I want a full conversation.”

Three squadrons of F-35s train at Luke Air Force Base, located just south of Surprise. West Valley leaders, including Wolcott, pushed to land the squadrons in hopes that it would bring people and jobs to the area.

However, some are concerned that Trump’s tweet could mean budget cuts for the program are coming.

Several other national leaders have also raised an eyebrow over the $400 billion price tag for 2,457 jets, including U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

“The F-35 program’s record of performance has been both a scandal and a tragedy with respect to cost, schedule and performance,” he said in a May statement.  “It’s a textbook example of why this (Senate Armed Services) Committee has placed such a high priority on reforming the broken defense acquisition system.”

The West Valley wasn’t the only one left with questions after Trump’s tweet. Lockheed Martin, the company behind the F-35, lost about $2 billion of its market value after the tweet and an analysis shows changing the jet program could affect thousands of jobs across 45 states.

Wolcott said she understands the federal government has an obligation to keep the F-35 program affordable for taxpayers.

“None of us is interested in overspending for the purposes of a jobs program,” she said. “This (F-35) program is important to the entire West Valley, and it’s certainly important to the city of Surprise.”

However, Wolcott said she isn’t too concerned about the tweet.

“I don’t let 140 character tweets keep me up at night,” she said.

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