New Air Force One Deal Cleared For Takeoff

Marcus Newton
March 2, 2018

"Thanks to the President's negotiations, the contract will save the taxpayers more than $1.4 billion", Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox.

But when the White House announced the deal that Trump negotiated, suddenly the cost ballooned to $5 billion, with Trump's negotiated price at $3.9 billion. That reflects recent painful experience - the aerospace firm has eaten more than $2 billion in cost overruns while developing the Air Force's new refueling tanker - and the expectation that refitting two commercial 747s for presidential service will prove more complicated than hoped.

A Boeing official said that Air Force One includes a "communications suite, internal and external stairs, large galleys and other equipment".

Much of the costs for the presidential plane come from pricey and complex modifications required to turn Boeing's iconic hump-backed jets into the flying fortresses that ferry US presidents around the world.

Fox News had the exclusive scoop on Tuesday.

The current Air Force One 747 jets are nearing the end of their 30-year design lifetime, and the plans for replacing them have been in the works for years.

Boeing said the delivery date for the new planes will depend on how much testing the Air Force wants to do. But previous estimates had been around $4.4 billion, a number that President-elect Trump himself lambasted in December 2016. He claimed the company was demanding more than $4 billion for the two jumbo jets, and hinted he might cancel the order.

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Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg met multiple times with Trump to discuss the Air Force One contract, most recently last week. The same 2018 budget document, not adjusted for inflation, showed the price at US$3.6b.

"Some of the statistics that have been cited, shall we say, don't appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defence", White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Mr. Trump has been pushing for a new deal since late 2016, when he said the project's costs were "out of control" and threatened to cancel the order. "President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people", Boeing posted on Twitter.

The President, who has repeatedly expressed his exasperation at his aging aircraft, wanted to meet face-to-face with Muilenburg to reach the deal, two officials said.

The Air Force declined to comment, referring all questions about the new jets to the White House.

The negotiations covered the overhaul of two 747 airliners.

The new 747-8 models will be capable of flying 1,000 miles farther than the existing version, while also producing less carbon pollution.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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