Defense

New Air Force One will cost more than promised

US presidential plane should consume over $ 5 billion and require up to hangar refurbishment at Andrews Air Force Base
One of two Boeing 747-8s that will be converted to the new Air Force One (Youtube)

US President Donald Trump has been known for the controversy since coming to the White House, but the Republican will soon face a new problem, this time in relation to the new Air Force One aircraft. The VC-25B project, based on the Boeing 747-8i, was ordered to Boeing in 2017 under the Obama administration. Soon after taking office, Trump complained about the high price and in February of last year announced a generous discount from Boeing, which would have dropped from $ 5.3 billion to $ 3.9 billion – yet a unit value of almost $ 2 billion

The reduction, however, has disappeared as the project progresses. For the first time, the new Air Force One appeared in the defense budget and values ​​returned to $ 5.3 billion, equivalent to more than 13 new 747 jets. The reason is in the costs associated with the project and not exactly in the airplanes – after all Boeing will use two converted commercial airplanes that had been commissioned by the failed Russian airline Transaero and which now lie in a desert in California.

What makes Air Force One so expensive are communication, defense and survival systems in case of war. The US presidential plane is more than a VIP transport, unlike other nations. The VC-25 is a kind of flying “White House” capable of allowing the country’s president to remain active in any scenario and can even trigger a nuclear attack in the event of extreme aggression.

But even so it seems insane that an airplane can cost so much especially when this amount involves expenses like the reform of the huge hangar that today accommodates the two VC-25s based on the old Boeing 747-200 jet. All because the 747-8i, larger in size than its predecessor, does not fit into the structure built at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C.

New Air Force One (Boeing 747-8)

Without aerial refueling

Critics have noted that the design of the new Air Force One can be a huge unnecessary expense after all the current VC-25A have been modernized since they came into service in 1990. In addition, unlike the 747 that will be converted, current Air Force One in-flight refueling capacity. In the new planes, the US Air Force eliminated adaptation because of rising costs.

Another argument raised is that the USAF is now looking for a platform capable of replacing planes such as the C-32 (a 757 VIP), the E-4B and the E-6B, air command and communication platforms that use 707 aircraft and 747. With the entry into service of the 767-based air refueling aircraft KC-46, it would seem more reasonable to place an integrated order creating specific versions for those functions and in which Air Force One could be inserted.

The irony in this story is that there is a possibility that Donald Trump will not make a single flight on the next presidential plane. That’s because the schedule foresees starting work only at the end of 2020 with delivery scheduled for 2024, the year in which the Republican will bid farewell to the White House if he can not be re-elected next year.

The US Air Force also uses the 747 in other functions as an air command platform, the E-4B (USAF)

About the author

Ricardo Meier

Creator of the website that started in 1996 as a magazine. He also writes on Brazilian websites AUTOO, MOTOO and MetrôCPTM.