7 Times Trump Bragged About Planes That Literally Don't Exist
During a speech Tuesday, President Trump claimed that the United States has invisible airplanes. This isn't true, of course, as humans have not yet invented technology to make planes invisible. But it wasn't too surprising to hear the president make that claim, given how many other times Trump has talked about planes that literally don't exist.
"We're ordering 147 new F-35 lightning fighters," Trump said in his speech. "This is an incredible plane. It's stealth — you can't see it!"
Trump appeared to be mixing up stealth technology with literal invisibility. As Lockheed Martin's website plainly states, however, "stealth is not invisibility." Rather, the term refers to technology that allows a plane to "elude or greatly complicate an enemy’s ability to find and destroy an aircraft using a combination of design, tactics and technology." Although scientists have long attempted to create technology that can render physical objects invisible, invisible vehicles simply don't exist, either in the U.S. military or elsewhere..
Nevertheless, Tuesday wasn't the first time Trump has wrongly claimed that America can make airplanes invisible. It wasn't even the first time that week, in fact. Trump has made repeated references to non-existent aircraft over the course of his short political career.
The Impossible F-18
As president-elect in 2016, Trump tweeted that he's asked Boeing to price-out an F-18 Super Hornet with "comparable" abilities to the F-35. But as several experts quickly pointed out, this would be impossible. Modifying the F-18 to give it the F-35's stealth capability (which, again, doesn't amount to literal invisibility) would require completely overhauling its shape, construction materials and avionics technology from the ground up — in other words, construction a new jet entirely that bears no resemblance to an F-18.
Invisible Jets, Part I
“Do you like the F-35?," Trump said at a press conference in Puerto Rico in October. "You can’t see it. Literally, you can’t see it. It’s hard to fight a plane that you can’t see, right? But that’s an expensive plane you can’t see.”
This appears to be the first time Trump has talked about non-existent invisible planes, but it would not be the last.
Invisible Jets, Part II
Trump reiterated this claim a month later while talking to members of the Coast Guard in Florida.
"I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, 'how good is this plane?' They said, 'well sir, you can't see it.' I said 'yeah, but in a fight, you know. A fight, like I watched on the movies. A fight, they're fighting. How good is this?,'" Trump said. "[They] say 'well, it wins every time, because the enemy cannot see it. Even if it's right next to it, it can't see it.' I said, 'that helps!'"
Once again, invisible planes don't exist.
The Video Game Plane
“In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets [to Norway],” Trump said at a press conference in January. “We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them, already a little ahead of schedule.”
As many noted at the time, the F-52 is not a real-life plane, but rather a fictional vehicle in the 2014 video game Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
Invisible Jets, Part III
During an event with Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson in March, Trump again claimed that the F-35 is invisible.
"I may ask Marillyn Lockheed," Trump said, confusing the CEO's real last name with the name of the company she runs. "We buy billions and billions of dollars worth of that beautiful F-35. It's stealth. You cannot see it. Is that correct?"
"That's correct, Mr. —," Hewson replied.
"Better be correct, right?" Trump interrupted.
Invisible Jets, Part IV
"In case you haven't noticed, there's an F-35 stealth fighter outside, and it's beautiful," Trump said at a White House event Monday. "I went to one of the pilots, I was saying, 'how do you compare this with a certain other plane from the enemy?' They said, 'well the difference is, when they fight, they can't see our plane.' I said, 'that sounds like a pretty big advantage, right?' It's called stealth. Super stealth!"
Invisible Jets, Part V
Trump most recently referenced non-existent invisible planes on Tuesday, while addressing a group of military veterans.
"When I talk to even people from the other side, they're trying to order our plane," Trump said of the F-35. "They like the fact that you can't see it. I said, 'how would it do in battle with your plane?' They say, 'well, we have one problem: We can't see your plane.' That's a big problem! Stealth. Super stealth! The best in the world. We make the best military equipment in the world."
Whether or not the United States makes the "best military equipment in the world" is up for debate. Whether the American military possesses invisible airplanes, however, is not.