Friday, 14 December, 2018

Trump strikes $3.9 billion deal with Boeing for new Air Force One

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Nellie Chapman | 02 March, 2018, 10:15

New Air Force One planes are typically an expensive project as the aircraft is created to be equipped with state of the art military defenses and communications systems.

The White House did whittle down costs by agreeing past year to buy two so-called "white tails", jets that Boeing built but never delivered. It follows years of negotiations between Boeing and the U.S. Air Force _ and Trump's personal intervention since his election.

While the cost has now been updated to $3.9bn, Trump tweeted out in 2016 that the planes cost too much.

The presidential aircraft have unique characteristics, including a communications suite, large galleys, a self-defense system and structural modifications meant to protect the president and others onboard for an extended period of time.

Two officials said the President asked for the new plane to be done by 2021, the beginning of what would be a second term, which is three years sooner than the original plan of 2024.

According to a Boeing official, the $3.9 billion price tag includes work to develop and build the two presidential aircraft, including things unique to Air Force One such as a communications suite, internal and external stairs, large galleys and other equipment, and structural changes created to protect and sustain the president and those on board for an extended period of time.

Trump met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg at the White House last week to discuss the deal.

Nicholas Kamm  AFP  Getty Images
Nicholas Kamm AFP Getty Images

Trump had been negotiating a new Air Force One contract since after he was elected in 2016, Fox News reported.

Boeing, in a statement, praised the agreement, saying "President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people". And I think it's ridiculous.

The new Air Force One deal will have the White House replacing older Air Force One models. It remains an open question whether the Air Force can complete its testing and modifications by then.

The aircraft's high price tag covers very little of the actual aircraft, Aboulafia said, with the overwhelming bulk going to the life-sustaining equipment onboard.

But the deal the White House now supports will carry costs barely below the $4 billion mark.

Quality and safety will not be compromised due to the price cut, the administration said.

The first time a sitting US President traveled overseas by air was 1943, which also happens to be the year Boeing made its first foray into downtown Everett, opening up in a defunct auto garage down on Pacific Avenue.