Trump tweeted Dec. 6 that “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

Share story

Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg was meeting for the second time since the election with President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss his company’s contract to build the next-generation version of Air Force One, the main presidential aircraft, according to two people familiar with plans to hold the meeting.

Muilenburg arrived for the meeting Tuesday morning at Trump Tower in New York.

The conversation between the two also will touch on the company’s F-18 Super Hornet, which Trump suggested last month should be upgraded to compete with Lockheed Martin’s F-35 as the Pentagon’s advanced fighter jet, according to one of the people. Both asked not to be identified discussing a private meeting.

Trump has shaken the defense industry — and put all large U.S. companies with government contracts on notice — with his Twitter postings. In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the president-elect boasted of “the massive cost reductions I have negotiated on military purchases,” although no specific reductions have yet been announced.

His public pressure on Boeing began on Dec. 6, when he tweeted that “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

In the wake of that comment, Muilenburg vowed that Chicago-based Boeing could build a new version of Air Force One for less than $4 billion.

“We’re going to get it done for less than that, and we’re committed to working together to make sure that happens,” Muilenburg said as he left the president-elect’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida last month. Muilenburg said he gave Trump his “personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company.”

More than a potent symbol of U.S. power, Air Force One planes are outfitted to highly classified specifications, which include secure communications and antimissile defenses, so they can operate as a flying White House in a national crisis. Boeing is currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of the complex military aircraft.

Boeing isn’t the only defense contractor that’s felt the fury of Trump’s tweets. Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson has met twice with Trump after he attacked the company for “out of control costs” on the F-35 jet, the largest U.S. weapons program. The $379 billion program for over 3,000 fighters started development in 2001 after Lockheed beat Boeing in the winner-take-all contest. The 200th aircraft was delivered January 11.

Trump even called on Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet” to compete with the F-35, a proposal defense analysts said was probably unworkable given the different roles and capabilities of the two fighters.

After the president-elect’s criticism, Hewson told Trump last week that Lockheed is close to a deal with the Pentagon to lower costs “significantly’’ on the next and largest production lot yet of F-35s.

At the time of Trump’s tweet about Air Force One, it wasn’t immediately clear where his estimate of $4 billion originated. The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said in an interview that the President-elect may be taking total acquisition costs and assuming that they are already built into the Boeing contract.

On Air Force One and the F-35, “he’s heard these big numbers,” Frank Kendall said in an interview. “Those are often program costs, or maybe acquisition total costs. They’re not contract values, necessarily.”

“The basic aircraft is a small fraction of that $4 billion — the 747s we’re buying — so Boeing has part of that cost but not all of that, by any means,” Kendall said. “We’re still negotiating with Boeing on that.”

Kendall praised the incoming president, who takes office Jan. 20, for his focus on reducing taxpayer expenses on large weapons contracts.

“His general interest in reducing costs is terrific- — his focus on that is good, but I think there are a lot of details I think he needs to absorb before he can talk about specifics,” Kendall said.