Lockheed Martin CEO meets Trump, says deal to lower F-35 costs is close

Lockheed Martin's logo is seen during Japan Aerospace 2016 air show in Tokyo, Japan, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp <LMT.N> is close to a deal to significantly lower the cost of its F-35 aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Marillyn Hewson said on Friday after meeting with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.

"I certainly share his views that we need to get the best capability to our men and women in uniform, and we have to get it at the lowest possible price," Hewson said to reporters in Trump Tower.

Hewson had previously assured Trump she would drive down the cost of the company's fighter jet, after he tweeted last month that he was asking rival aerospace company Boeing Co <BA.N> whether it could offer a cheaper alternative to the F-35.

Trump has threatened and rebuked some of America's largest companies, creating a new business risk for those who have been or fear being targeted.

Costs for Lockheed's F-35 program had escalated to an estimated $379 billion. The program accounted for 20 percent of the company's total revenue of $46.1 billion last year.

Boeing's F-18, the plane Trump floated as a possible alternative, is an older generation aircraft that lacks the stealth capabilities of the F-35.

Hewson also said Lockheed plans to increase jobs at its Fort Worth, Texas, facility by 1,800, which she said would add "thousands and thousands of jobs" across the supply chain in 45 U.S. states. Lockheed shares were up 1 percent after her comments on Friday.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson in Washington; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernard Orr)