President of United States of America (USA) Donald Trump has reached an informal deal with Boeing to provide two Air Force One planes for $3.9 billion on a fixed-price contract. A White House spokesperson said the agreement would save US taxpayers more than $1.4bn.
The negotiation was conducted ever since the presidential transition period in late 2016 when Trump criticized about the cost of the project and threatened to cancel the order. Later, Boeing stated that president Trump negotiated good deal on behalf of American people. However, cost where savings were made aren’t entirely clear.
The agreement covers the cost of 2 Air Force Ones including things unique to aging Reagan-era aircraft Air Force One such as a communications suite, internal and external stairs, large galleys and other equipment along with structural changes designed to protect and sustain the President and those on board for an extended period of time.
Trump met with Boeing executives last Tuesday in the White House to finalize the deal and have asked the planes to be made by 2021, which is three years sooner than the original plan of 2024. This raises the question whether the Air Force can complete its testing and modifications by then.
It has long been essential for Boeing to keep up a good relationship with the federal government. The company is a major defense contractor with about $26 billion worth of sales from US government contracts in 2015, which amounted to 27% of its annual revenue.
The current Air Force One planes began service in 1990 under former President George H.W. Bush and they are reaching near the end of their planned life.
Some Facts about the Air Force One (Boeing 747-200B jets)
• Technically, “Air Force One” is a call sign for any aircraft carrying the US president.
• Can fly at 600 mph (around 92% speed of sound) and can reach a maximum altitude of 45,100 feet (13,750 m) in comparison to 30,000 feet (9,100 m) of commercial flights.
• There are 2 identical Air Force One and president regularly flies in either of the two aircraft.
• It stands as tall as a six story building.
• It can fly halfway around the globe thanks to its massive fuel capacity of 53,000 gallons and can be refueled during the flight in the air.
• It is equipped with electronic counter measures (ECM) to jam enemy radar so that no one can trace the flight path of the plane, 85 onboard telephones, and a collection of two-way radios.
• It is also capable of ejecting flares to disarm missiles from enemy crafts.
• It is custom Designed by Boeing in design collaboration with The White House and the Secret Services.
• The 3 story aircraft contains 4,000 square feet of floor space that includes a living space for the President which features a Hi-tech office, conference room living quarters with his own bedroom, bathroom, workout gym, and a mini hospital with medical personnel, an operating room, and a kitchen which can feed 100 people at a time.
• Its Air Force designation is VC-25A, and its classified call name is “Angel.”
• Limousine dubbed as the “Beast,” is sent ahead of the president in a military cargo plane so that it’s in place on the proper tarmac when the president does arrive.
• Contains cameras on its wheels that can distinguish license plates from nearly 30,000 feet away.
• The upkeep cost of Air Force One can cost well over $250,000.