Amid all the headline-grabbing comments from Donald Trump last week, it would have been easy to miss his takedown of Boeing's F/A-18 Hornet.
During an interview with the Washington Post, Trump became distracted by something on Fox News, according to a transcript. The interview took place on Aug. 2, the same day a Navy F/A-18C Hornet crashed during a training mission in Nevada. While answering a question about his daughter Ivanka and the issue of sexual harassment, coverage of the crash caught his eye.
"Oh, did they have another one of these things go down? It's terrible that crash. Never liked that plane, structurally. I never thought that plane could —," Trump said before being interrupted by the interviewer trying to bring him back to the original question of sexual harassment in the work place.
Last week's crash was the third recent mishap involving a Hornet: late last month, an F/A-18C Hornet crashed in California and earlier this summer, a Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet crashed during a practice flight with the aerial performance squad. Both of those crashes killed their pilots.
Chris Harmer, a retired Navy commander, said the remark just shows Trump's "ignorance" about military and national security issues.
"From criticizing war hero John McCain for getting shot down over Vietnam, to insulting Humayan Khan who was killed defending American policy in Iraq, to making technically inaccurate comments about weapons systems he clearly knows nothing about, Donald Trump seems to never tire of being wrong on the issues," Harmer said. "For the record, the F-18 is the safest fixed wing carrier tactical fighter jet in US Navy history. That does not mean it is beyond criticism, it just means on this issue Donald Trump doesn't know what he is talking about."
Richard Aboulafia, the vice president of analysis at Teal Group, said that more than 2,000 Hornets and Super Hornets have been delivered to eight customers over 36 years and that he'd "never heard anyone question its structure as unsound.
"What a bizarre moment. I have no idea what he's thinking about this, and it's kind of telling that he thinks he's able to comment on the structure of a plane," Aboulafia said in an email to the Washington Examiner.
Asked if Trump would be able to influence the future of the Hornet production line if elected, Aboulafia said no, especially since the procurement program is "basically over."
"There wouldn't be an impact on the program if he's elected, since people who actually know about the aircraft in the Navy and Congress determine its future at this point," he said.
Boeing referred inquiries about the remark to the Navy. A Navy spokesman said it would be "inappropriate" for the military to comment on political campaigns. Trump's campaign did not respond to a request for more information.