During his presidency, Donald Trump said a lot of wild, outrageous, and untrue things. But a Trump misstatement unlike any other was the time he made up a nonexistent fighter jet.
As reported by the BBC, Trump made the statement in early 2018 that the United States had sold “F-52” fighter jets to Norway.
“In November we started delivering the first F-52s and F-35 fighter jets,” Trump said at a joint appearance at the White House with the then-Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg, as reported by the Washington Post. “We have a total of 52 and they’ve delivered a number of them already a little ahead of schedule.”
There is, in fact, no such jet in existence, although a fictional jet of that name is in the video game series “Call of Duty,” specifically the “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” game. The National Interest noted in a piece last year that the F-52 in the video game “is clearly based on early 1990s-era Lockheed Martin concepts for the Naval Advanced Tactical Fighter and the later A/F-X—both of which were based on the YF-22 demonstrator aircraft that eventually became the F-22 Raptor.”
There really was a sale of jets to Norway and presumably, the president had confused the number of jets, fifty-two, with the name of the jet.
Speaking of fighter jets, Trump was also known to confuse “stealth” with invisibility.
According to Popular Mechanics, the 45th president often created the impression that he thought the F-35 jet in particular was literally invisible.
“No, they have the money, and they all—they would like to order quite a few F-35s; it’s the greatest fighter jet in the world, as you know, by far. Stealth. Totally stealth. You can’t see it,” Trump said in a White House briefing in August of 2020. ‘Makes it very difficult. I was asking a pilot, ‘What do you think is better: This one? This one? That one?’ Talking about Russian planes, Chinese planes. He said, “Well, the advantage we have is you can’t see it.” So when we’re fighting, they can’t see us. I say, ‘That sounds like a really big advantage to me.’”
Stealth fighters are invisible to radar, but not to the naked eye itself unless they’re operated by Wonder Woman.
Earlier this year, under President Joe Biden, the United States reached another agreement with Norway, per Reuters.
“The agreement regulates and facilitates U.S. presence, training and exercises in Norway, thus facilitating rapid U.S. reinforcement of Norway in the event of crisis or war,” the Norwegian government said at the time of the deal.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.