Planes built for bankrupt Russian airlines could be new Air Force Ones

Planes built for bankrupt Russian airlines could be new Air Force Ones

Planes built for bankrupt Russian airlines could be new Air Force Ones

As part of a Pentagon request to shift, or reprogram, $2.4 billion in previously approved funds, the Air Force last month requested $195 million to speed up purchase of two Boeing 747-8 commercial planes for the project. They spoke anonymously because the deal is not final and has not been publicly announced.

Boeing had said it expected to add the Air Force One jets to its backlog, which now numbers 20 planes - five passenger models and 15 freighters.The redeployment to the Air Force of jets already built for another customer would effectively reduce Boeing's future 747 production plans by two aircraft.

And the United States Air Force just found one for the president, sitting in a Mojave Desert boneyard: two brand new Boeing 747-8's, the very same planes that the military plans to convert into the next Air Force One aircraft.

Defense One was first to report this story.

But the Air Force has pressed on with its plans to purchase two newer 747-8 aircraft to replace the existing presidential transports, for good reason: the VC-25As now in service have been flying since the George H.W. Bush administration. News of the negotiations was reported earlier by the trade publication Defense One; it was confirmed Tuesday by the Air Force. Boeing made it very clear that the planes have never been delivered and has always been under its ownership.

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Air Force One has more than 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including a presidential suite, a medical suite that can serve as an operating room and galleys capable of feeding as many as 100 people at a time. While the country's national airline, Aeroflot, absorbed many of Transaero's employees and aircraft, it declined to take on its fleet of costly jumbo jets.

The huge Mojave Desert facility is hot and dry, so airplanes there do not suffer corrosion.

As per Defense One, if the Air Force buys the planes, contractors will have to provide them with a state-of-the-art communications system, defensive countermeasures, and hardening to withstand an electromagnetic pulse caused by a nuclear explosion.

The vast majority of that price tag (it was actually $3.73 billion) is not the planes themselves but the upgrades that will turn them into secure flying White Houses. Airlines instead have opted for cheaper-to-fly two-engine planes like the 777.

The two aircraft that now serve as the primary presidential transports are highly modified 747-200Bs that have been in service since 1990.

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