President Donald Trump, the “Art of the Deal” commander in chief who promised to make better deals for Americans, apparently has done that yet again.
He previously took America out of a climate deal with massive negative impacts for the nation and has declared that international trade deals will be improved or dropped.
Now he’s apparently saving taxpayers money on the jets that he and subsequent presidents will use.
The issue arose even before he was president, when he 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!”
Now the Air Force has announced it has awarded a contract modification for just under $600 million to Boeing for preliminary design efforts for the next Air Force One.
“The contract modification includes the design to incorporate a mission communication system, electrical power upgrades, a medical facility, an executive interior, a self-defense system and autonomous ground operations capabilities into two commercial Boeing 747-8s,” the Air Force said.
The jets that will be modified to serve that need are Boeing 747-8 units that had been ordered by a bankrupt airline in Russia but never delivered because payment never was made.
According to a report in DefenseOne, although the exact price hasn’t been disclosed, they list for around $390 million each.
They’ve been stored in the Mojave Desert after their completion and flight-testing because Transaero, the company that ordered them, failed financially.
Boeing then flew them to the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, which features a “boneyard” for jets in temporary storage.
Sen. Tom Coburn has come up with the answer to a Washington bureaucracy that doesn’t seem to care about the Constitution or the American people: An Article V convention, which he describes in “Smashing the DC Monopoly: Using Article V to Restore Freedom and Stop Runaway Government.”
“Boeing has been paying to store the two 747s in new condition while searching for a buyer, which allowed the Air Force to negotiate a good deal for them, sources said. It’s similar to the way car dealers discount new vehicles from the previous year when new models hit the lot,” explained the DefenseOne report.
But turning a new jet into Air Force One requires more, and the new contract is intended to bring the systems and interior up to the level required by a president in time of emergency.
The report said the Air Force plans over coming years to spend up to $3.2 billion on the jets, which President Trump will use if he is re-elected.
The new jets are replacing two aging VC-25A aircraft, which have been in service since the presidency of George H.W. Bush.
“Following the award of the contract to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft, this contract award is the next major step forward toward ensuring an overall affordable program,” said Maj. Gen. Duke Richardson, Presidential Airlift Recapitalization program executive officer.
The White House explains: “Technically, Air Force One is used to describe any Air Force aircraft carrying the president – but since the middle of the 20th century, it has been standard practice to refer to specific planes that are equipped to transport the commander-in-chief. Today, this name refers to one of two highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft, which carry the tail codes 28000 and 29000. The Air Force designation for the aircraft is VC-25A.
“Capable of refueling midair, Air Force One has unlimited range and can carry the president wherever he needs to travel. The onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack on the United States.
“Inside, the president and his travel companions enjoy 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including an extensive suite for the president that features a large office, lavatory, and conference room. Air Force One includes a medical suite that can function as an operating room, and a doctor is permanently on board. The plane’s two food preparation galleys can feed 100 people at a time.”
Trump had his own personal jet for transportation before he was inaugurated as president.