The President-elect claimed costs are 'out of control' at $4 billion USD in a late night tweet.
President-elect Trump has called for the next-generation Air Force One to be cancelled, alleging that costs are running “out of control” at $4 billion USD (about $5.25B CAD).
Trump made the comments in a late night tweet:
It isn’t clear exactly where Trump got that $4 billion figure from. It has been widely reported that the Air Force has budgeted $1.65 billion for the project. However, defence analyst Tom Harrison, of the highly-regarded Center for Strategic and International Studies tweeted that the research and development budget alone currently stands at $2.9 billion.
In a statement released in response to Trump’s tweet, Boeing said: “We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serves 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 plans for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
A pair of Boeing 747s serve as Air Force One, under the Air Force designation VC-25. No mere airliners, they are flying military command posts. They are equipped to coordinate military forces anywhere in the world, survive an electromagnetic pulse, and evade surface-to-air missiles, not to mention any number of other classified capabilities. None of which comes cheap.
The current aircraft are 30 years old and reaching the end of their service life. Air Force executive Kevin Buckley, who is overseeing the new planes, told Military.com: “The real challenge and the challenge that is forcing us to buy newer aircraft for the President is to overcome the fact that there are heroics going on every day to keep the current aircraft flying and it’s becoming way too expensive and way too difficult to do that.”
The latest Boeing 747-800 has been chosen for the next-generation Air Force One. It carries a list price of $379 million USD, to which you can add the cost of developing, building, and installing command, communications, and defence hardware, much of which probably doesn’t actually exist yet. In that light, even $4 billion for the two planes could be seen as good value. And it is a drop in the ocean compared to the the Pentagon’s annual budget of more than $500 billion.
The next Air Force One is due to take to the skies in 2024. So at the absolute most, Trump would only get a few months use out of it anyway.