US May Soon Buy New Air Force One Planes

Javier Stokes
August 3, 2017

Instead they are considering reconfiguring a pair of jumbo Boeing 747-8 planes originally built for a defunct Russian airline that went bankrupt in 2015, according to a United States official and another source close to the discussions.

Two Boeing 747-8 jets that were given up before delivery by Russia's bankrupt Transaero Airlines could well end up as the next presidential Air Force One aircraft.

The two 747-8s were initially ordered in 2013 by Transaero, a Russian airline that went bankrupt in 2015.

Boeing had also attempted to package the two jets as part of a deal with Iran Air, the person familiar with the deal said, but the carrier decided against the 747-8 and Airbus A380, each company's biggest jetliners. Boeing regularly sells a plane of the same kind for $390 million.

But the Air Force has pressed on with its plans to purchase two newer 747-8 aircraft to replace the existing presidential transports, for good reason: the VC-25As now in service have been flying since the George H.W. Bush administration.

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The Air Force didn't confirm all the details but acknowledged it's "working through the final stages of coordination to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft". Boeing made a decision to bring the planes-which have no interior fittings aside from the cockpit and a few business-class seats on the upper deck-to a storage center in the Mojave Desert in California. The Pentagon could publicly announce the deal as soon as this week.

The Air Force now operates two modified Boeing 747-200Bs, designated as VC-25As, when carrying the President. And one of the things he tweeted about was how Boeing's new versions of Air Force One were too expensive to build and to cancel the order. "This deal is focused on providing a great value for the Air Force and the best price for the taxpayer".

About one month after the election, President Donald Trump spoke out about the cost of Air Force One, which he claimed to be over $4 billion. News of the negotiations was reported earlier by the trade publication Defense One; it was confirmed Tuesday by the Air Force.

So it may be that the Air Force has found its last 747s to serve as Air Force One, just waiting for them in the Mojave Desert. The Air Force needs to replace these planes with more modern technology and more efficient aircraft.

In other words, the Air Force will be getting two nearly-new 747's that have never been in service and will immediately be ready for modification.

The planes are expected to enter service between 2018 and 2022.

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