Trump’s AF1 & F-35 tweets, one year on. Canada-Boeing feud deepens. Global arms sales rise, and more.

By Marcus Weisgerber

December 14, 2017

Remember when then-President-elect Donald Trump threw shade at a new Air Force One and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter? A year ago, those tweets had defense firms “shaking in their boots,” as I said at the time.

So how have Boeing and Lockheed stocks responded since then? On Dec. 6, 2016, the day of the Air Force One tweet, Boeing opened at $150.84 per share. Today, it is trading near $291. Trump’s F-35 tweet came on Dec. 12, when Lockheed opened at $251.78. Today, it is trading around $318 per share.

In fact, most major defense stocks are still trending upward despite the federal budget uncertainty (keep reading). And Trump loves the “invisible” F-35.


You’ve reached the Defense One Global Business Brief by Marcus Weisgerber. Another week, another countdown to government shutdown. As always, send your tips, feedback and random thoughts to or @MarcusReports. Check out the Global Business Brief archive here, and tell your friends to subscribe!

From Defense One

Pentagon's Ambitious Goal: Launch a Weapons Program in Just 12 Months // Caroline Houck

The defense acquisition undersecretary is looking to rapid capabilities offices as models for more formal programs.

Pentagon Delays Deadline For Military Suppliers to Meet Cybersecurity Rules // Marcus Weisgerber

The goal of the new regulations is to secure sensitive data on the computers and networks at smaller companies.

NGA Launches Bold Recruitment Plan to Hire Silicon Valley's Best // Frank Konkel

The intelligence agency is hacking hiring rules to fill three new digital teams in its quest for data dominance.

Budget Crisis Averted, Until Next Week

The new budget deadline: Dec. 22. Absent a yearlong deal or short-term continuing resolution, or CR, the government will shut down on Dec. 23. Merry Christmas! Byron Callan at Capital Alpha Partners has issued new odds:

Now, some better news for defense watchers. President Trump signed the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which OKs $692 billion for the Pentagon. But without Congress passing an appropriations measure, it’s pretty moot.

NDAA brings new rules for bid protests

The law launches a pilot program in which contractors with more than $250 million in revenue will have to reimburse the government’s costs of they protest a contract award and lose the protest. From my Nexgov colleagues Frank Konkel and Heather Kuldell: “The pilot begins in 2019 and will last for three years.  Before the pilot, the department will have to determine exactly what costs losing vendors would be forced to pay. For the first time in five years, bid protests decreased in fiscal 2017 after an all-time peak last year.”

Who's Up, Who's Down

JP Morgan analyst Seth Seifman upgraded Northrop Grumman from neutral to overweight on projections of more profitable F-35 growth. But he downgraded General Dynamics from underweight to neutral on Gulfstream uncertainty. Seifman also downgraded Raytheon from overweight to neutral.

Canada May Drop Boeing From Defense Work

Just when you thought the rift between the Canadian government and Boeing couldn’t get worse, it has. In formally announcing it would buy used F/A-18 Hornets from Australia instead of $5 billion in new Super Hornets from Boeing (which we already knew), Ottawa threw yet another dagger: a hint that Boeing has no chance of winning a contest to build 88 new fighter jets for the Royal Canadian Air Force.

When bids are assessed, any bidder responsible for harm to Canada’s economic interests will be at a distinct disadvantage,” the government said in a statement. “This new assessment, as well as guidelines for its application as an ongoing procurement tool, will be developed through appropriate consultations.”

The language is a clear reference to the trade battle between the U.S. government and Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier. The U.S. government — at Boeing’s urging — is considering slapping high tariffs on new Bombardier jetliners purchased by by American air carriers.

After reports leaked last week that Ottawa would buy used Hornets instead of new Super Hornets, Boeing said it “respects the Canadian government’s decision and applauds the government’s continued use of a two engine fighter solution, which is a critical part of their northern Arctic border defense, NORAD cooperation, and coast to coast to coast security.”

But at the same time it shows no sign of backing down in its trade dispute.

Our commitment to creating a level playing field in aerospace remains,” the company said. “Therefore, we will continue to support all efforts to build an environment of free and fair competition marked by compliance with agreed upon rules.”

Two data points

So which fighter jet will it pick?

A year ago Ottawa made headlines when it ditched the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the Super Hornet. That decision could actually help the F-35 in the long run since production will be in high-swing and the price of the plane keeps falling.

Boeing’s mention of a “two-engine” jet in its statement is noteworthy because it is one of only three companies (from NATO countries) that make twin-engine warplanes. Boeing has the Super Hornet and F-15, France’s Dassault makes the Rafael, and a European consortium makes the Eurofighter.

Global Arms Sales Up in 2016

That’s for the first time since 2010, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Some highlights from the report, which does not factor in China arms sales:

Bomb-and-Missile News

Making Moves

By Marcus Weisgerber // Marcus Weisgerber is the global business editor for Defense One, where he writes about the intersection of business and national security. He has been covering defense and national security issues for more than a decade, previously as Pentagon correspondent for Defense News and chief editor of Inside the Air Force. He has reported from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia, and often travels with the defense secretary and other senior military officials.

December 14, 2017