Boe­ing to pro­duce 2 Air Force One jets

The com­pany wins a con­tract to mod­ify a pair of 747-8s into new pres­i­den­tial air­craft.

Los Angeles Times - - THE NATION - By Sa­man­tha Ma­sunaga sa­man­tha.ma­sunaga@la­times.com Twit­ter: @sma­sunaga

Aerospace gi­ant Boe­ing Co. has won a con­tract to sell the U.S. Air Force two com­mer­cial 747-8 jet­lin­ers that will be mod­i­fied into the pres­i­den­tial air­craft known as Air Force One.

The Air Force said Fri­day that the mod­i­fi­ca­tions are ex­pected to be­gin in 2019 and the planes should be ready by 2024. Up­grades will in­clude a mission com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem, a med­i­cal fa­cil­ity, an “ex­ec­u­tive in­te­rior” and self-de­fense sys­tem.

The cur­rent Air Force One air­craft were or­dered by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan and have been used since Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush’s ad­min­is­tra­tion in 1990.

The Air Force said in a state­ment that the ne­go­ti­ated price paid for the air­craft, along with other “re­lated de­tails,” would not be re­leased be­cause it was“com­mer­cial com­pe­ti­tion sen­si­tive” in­for­ma­tion.

In a state­ment, Dar­lene Costello, the prin­ci­pal deputy as­sis­tant sec­re­tary of the Air Force for ac­qui­si­tion, called the con­tract a “sig­nif­i­cant step to­wards en­sur­ing an over­all af­ford­able pro­gram.”

In De­cem­ber, then-Pres­i­dent-elect Trump crit­i­cized the cost of the next gen­er­a­tion of Air Force One, writ­ing on Twit­ter that the $4-bil­lion price tag to build newly de­signed planes based on the 747-8 for pres­i­den­tial use was “out of con­trol.”

Boe­ing spokes­woman Caro­line Hutch­e­son said in a state­ment that the two com­mer­cial planes were sold to the Air Force “at a sub­stan­tial discount from the com­pany’s ex­ist­ing in­ven­tory.”

“In buy­ing these read­ily avail­able, U.S.-built new air­planes, the Air Force has taken ad­van­tage of a unique op­por­tu­nity to get a great air­plane at a great price for the Amer­i­can tax­payer,” she said.

Trade pub­li­ca­tion De­fense One re­ported last week that the two Boe­ing jumbo jets were orig­i­nally set for ser­vice with a nowde­funct Rus­sian air­line.

The planes were or­dered in 2013 by Transaero, but the air­line ceased op­er­a­tions two years later and never took own­er­ship of the air­craft.

The jet­lin­ers are now parked along with other re­tired or sur­plus air­craft in a “bone­yard” in the Mo­jave Desert, ac­cord­ing to De­fense One.

Boe­ing has flight-tested the jets and had re­port­edly paid to store the planes in new con­di­tion while look­ing for a buyer.

A source close to the mat­ter con­firmed de­tails of the De­fense One story.

Jose Luis Ma­gana As­so­ci­ated Press

AIR FORCE ONE be­fore a f light in April. Two new jets should be ready by 2024.

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