Twitter Facebook Google RSS
Budget Matters 

Canceling Presidential Jet Would Be Problematic 


By Jon Harper 

Boeing 747-8

Canceling the program to build a new presidential aircraft, as President Donald Trump has suggested, would bring extra costs to the Pentagon and could potentially leave future commanders-in-chief without needed capabilities, said a leading aerospace analyst.

In December, Trump tweeted: “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”

Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group, said the businessman doesn’t have his facts straight.

“There were so many wrong ideas in the space of 140 characters,” he said.

“No, it’s not a $4 billion program. No, costs aren’t rising. The thing is just beginning.”

The program is currently expected to have a price tag of about $3 billion and Boeing is under contract for just a fraction of that, he noted. “Will it cost more? Maybe, but it’s too soon to know.”

In the wake of Trump’s tweet, Boeing issued the following statement: “We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the president of the United States. We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer.”

Spending billions of dollars for two aircraft — the main Air Force One and a spare — to ferry the commander-in-chief around the world might sound excessive to those unfamiliar with its requirements, Aboulafia said.

“Everyone has this bizarre idea that it’s just a transport,” he said. It’s also an airborne command post that would enable the president to survive an attack, manage a response to an emergency like 9/11, or wage nuclear war if necessary, he noted.

“Twenty percent of that [price tag] is the cost of the Boeing jetliners,” he said. “The rest is electromagnetic pulse hardening, electronic countermeasures, anti-missile systems, encrypted and secure communications, and even battle management capabilities. … Those things are expensive.”

In the long term, canceling the program probably wouldn’t save a lot of money because legacy aircraft would need to be refurbished and upgraded as threats evolve, he said.

“They would have to do a lot of retrofitting,” he said. “It would be less capable [than a new aircraft] and pretty darn pricey.”

If expensive upgrades weren’t made, the national security community would have to “just accept the idea that in the event of a national disaster, the president would be in a civil jetliner which may or may not survive,” he added.

Photo: Boeing
Submit Your Reader's Comment Below
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Please enter the text displayed in the image.
The picture contains 6 characters.
*Legal Notice

NDIA is not responsible for screening, policing, editing, or monitoring your or another user's postings and encourages all of its users to use reasonable discretion and caution in evaluating or reviewing any posting. Moreover, and except as provided below with respect to NDIA's right and ability to delete or remove a posting (or any part thereof), NDIA does not endorse, oppose, or edit any opinion or information provided by you or another user and does not make any representation with respect to, nor does it endorse the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement, or other material displayed, uploaded, or distributed by you or any other user. Nevertheless, NDIA reserves the right to delete or take other action with respect to postings (or parts thereof) that NDIA believes in good faith violate this Legal Notice and/or are potentially harmful or unlawful. If you violate this Legal Notice, NDIA may, in its sole discretion, delete the unacceptable content from your posting, remove or delete the posting in its entirety, issue you a warning, and/or terminate your use of the NDIA site. Moreover, it is a policy of NDIA to take appropriate actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other applicable intellectual property laws. If you become aware of postings that violate these rules regarding acceptable behavior or content, you may contact NDIA at 703.522.1820.

  Bookmark and Share