December 12, 2016 / 6:14 PM / 7 months ago

Exclusive - McCain backs Trump criticism of F-35, says president can't cancel it

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U.S. Senator John McCain arrives on a visit at a migrant center near the village of Adasevci, Serbia February 12, 2016.Marko Djurica/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain said on Monday he backed President-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the costs of Lockheed Martin’s (LMT.N) F-35 fighter jet program, but said a president does not have the authority to cancel it because funds have already been appropriated.

In an interview with Reuters, McCain, a leading Republican voice on national security and outspoken critic of Pentagon cost overruns, said, however, that Trump would have the power to reduce future purchases of the new-generation fighters if he decides to do so.

“He can reduce the buy over time, next year, as we look at it again,” McCain said. “But right now, the acquisition … of lots of them is already taking place, and I’m happy to say at fixed-price contract. The president, I’m sure, can examine it.”

Reporting By Matt Spetalnick and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Nick Zieminski

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