Standing alongside Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at a White House press conference this week, Donald Trump boasted, “In November, we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets.”
That wouldn’t be especially notable, were it not for the fact that there’s no such thing as an F-52. The Washington Post reported yesterday that the plane does exist in a popular video game.
President Trump’s announcement of U.S.-made F-52s fighter aircraft delivered to Norway may have rattled its neighbor Russia, the source of rising tension among NATO allies.
Was it a secret advanced jet capable of beating its Russian counterparts? A ruse to fool intelligence analysts?
Neither, it turns out. The “F-52” is a fictional jet only available to fly if you’re a gamer at the controls of “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”
In fairness, at the same press conference, Trump went on to talk about 52 of the F-35 fighter jets – it’s likely he confused the numbers while reading from his prepared text – but in this case, that was wrong, too: Norwegian officials have so far authorized funding for 40 of the planes, not 52. The president made no effort to correct the record.
Indeed, the Daily Beast’s Spencer Ackerman joked, “You laugh but I promise you [Lockheed Martin, the defense company that makes the F-35] is scrambling to design an F-52 knowing that the administration would buy it just to avoid admitting a Trump error.”
All of which brings us back to a familiar thesis: the president keeps saying odd things about airplanes.
This came up a week ago, when Trump foolishly tried to take credit for the safety of commercial air travel, but as regular readers know, it wasn’t an isolated incident.
In November, for example, the president seemed to suggest he believes the F-35 fighter jet is literally invisible. “Even if [the enemy] is right next to it, it can’t see it,” Trump said.
Trump has also been caught falsely bragging about lowering the price of a new Air Force One, which was followed by a series of claims about saving taxpayers millions on F-35 fighter jets, which were also demonstrably wrong.
In September, Trump interrupted a meeting with members of Congress to complain that the emir of Kuwait’s plane was bigger than his. Two months later, Trump made up a bizarre story about Barack Obama, while aboard Air Force One, trying and failing to land in the Philippines last year.
I don’t imagine Trump is interested in my advice, but perhaps he should avoid talking about airplanes altogether for a while?