The Air Force is toying with the idea of giving the president a supersonic ride to his or her international appointments. According to military.com the Air Force’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate has awarded a $1 million small business innovation research contract to aerospace startup Exosonic to nail down the basics of a low-boom supersonic aircraft that could serve as Air Force One. The aircraft would be a derivative of Exosonic’s 70-seat Mach 1.8 airliner that the company is hoping to roll out in 2025.
The contract “will support Exosonic’s efforts to develop and modify the company’s commercial supersonic airliner to serve as an executive transport vehicle,” a company news release said. “These modifications will include reconfiguring the aircraft cabin to include the required accommodations, communications equipment, and security measures that allow U.S. leaders and their guests to work and rest onboard the aircraft.” It’s also the second such contract awarded.
In August, the Air Force awarded a $1.5 million contract to Hermeus, which is proposing a Mach 5 commercial aircraft. As with the Exosonic contract, Hermeus will use the money to adapt its design for executive transport. Meanwhile, the next two VC-25 aircraft, the replacement for the Boeing 747-400s normally referred to as Air Force One, are currently in pieces and in the process of being rebuilt to meet presidential transport requirements. That includes the installation of air stairs, medical facilities, security, system and other modifications.