The Next Air Force One Could Be an Abandoned Plane From a Bankrupt Russian Airline
The Air Force is reportedly trying to save money on a new Air Force One by buying two Boeing aircraft that were once destined to join a Russian airline.
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. He tweeted: “Cancel order!”
In an attempt to cut costs, the Air Force is now working out a deal with Boeing to buy two already-built Boeing 747-8s that are currently sitting in an aircraft boneyard in California, according to a report from Defense One.
“We’re still working toward a deal to provide two 747-8s to the Air Force,” Caroline Hutcheson, a spokesperson for Boeing, told Travel + Leisure in a statement. “This deal is focused on providing a great value for the Air Force and the best price for the taxpayer.”
The Air Force said in a statement that they “expect to award a contract soon” for two commercial 747-8 aircraft.
The two aircraft in question were originally ordered by Russian airline Transaero. The airline placed their order in 2013 and Boeing built two of the aircraft in 2015. But later that year, the airline went bankrupt and was unable to pay for the planes.
In February, the two abandoned aircraft flew from the Boeing facility in Everett, Washington to an aircraft storage lot in Victorville, California. The hot climate of the Mojave Desert prevents the body from corroding as the planes wait for a new owner.
The average price of a Boeing 747-8 is $386.8 million, according to the company. The report from Defense One estimates that the Air Force could purchase the two planes in a bundle deal for $390 million. Although the planes themselves are not what gives Air Force One such a hefty price tag.
According to Politifact, the planes only amount to about one-fifth the entire project cost for Air Force One.
The 2018 Department of Defense budget plans a $3.2 billion allotment for the aircraft between 2018 and 2022. The majority of that money will go towards making Air Force One an airborne Oval Office and safe space for the president in case of emergency. Both planes have to have a mobile command center, the ability to refuel while in the air and even a missile evasion defense system — which are all costly features.
Trump will not fly on the new Air Force One unless he is elected to a second term.
The current planes are 747-200s, which have been in service for almost 30 years.