Funding Allocated For Supersonic Air Force One Research


The Air Force has said it’s looking at building a supersonic Air Force One and now it’s been revealed that the initiative will come at the expense of the current fleet of “Air Force Two” aircraft. The Air Force is redirecting funds that would go toward replacing its fleet of C-32A executive transports (often referred to as Air Force Two) to research into high speed supersonic or even hypersonic VIP aircraft. The four C-32As, converted Boeing 757s, have at least 17 years of service left but the Air Force set aside roughly $6.2 million a year to buy replacements. That money has officially been redirected to the supersonic effort according to budget documents reviewed by The War Zone

“After 2020, remaining funding in [C-32 Executive Transport Recapitalization] was applied to the evaluation and maturation of advanced high speed transport scale aircraft with potential to expand the defense industrial base and serve as C-32A replacements at the appropriate time,” the website quoted the documents as saying. That doesn’t mean the C-32As will be left to crumble in the desert, however. The Air Force is also looking for about $5 million to upgrade the twin jets in the next couple of years and at least one has already received a $16 million refreshed interior that makes it more like the VC-25A converted Boeing 747 that is the president’s main ride. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. In a Zoom-meeting-infested world, what is the compelling need for supersonic transportation for government officials?
    How about the rear seat of an F-15?

  2. I thought Uncle Joe was supposed to be our eco-president? You know, trade in AF1 for a sailboat?

  3. If they are looking to redirect funds, why not buy one less F-35? That would be a win-win arrangement. 😉

    Seriously though, I also question the need for having supersonic transport for politicians. One advantage I guess would be that the entourage of press and staff would be a lot smaller on an SST.

  4. One of the missions of AF 1 is to serve as a “Flying White House” and communication center in the event of a national emergency. In the present aircraft, the President can maintain contact with civil and ground forces anywhere in the world by phone or sophisticated computer systems. The “Direct to satellite” communication and internet system bypasses the need for ground stations–but also requires two large radomes on the aircraft, and several people for running the system.

    The 747-based aircraft also have on-board kitchens, capable of preparing safe food for the President and staff anywhere on Earth. Trying to fit all of these needs (Plus the security guards, staff, and press on board a smaller SST probably won’t come out well. Looks like even more money down the government rat-hole.

    Finally, a note to would-be SST designers–make it small enough so that the President doesn’t have to climb those tall steps–falling 3 times! (sarcasm)

  5. Whats the purpose of flying completely senile politicians through the air at supersonic speeds? Why not build a space-capable autonomous craft, and see if we can manage to make it escape earths gravity? We can always call it a “glitch”… That would be well invested money.

  6. I LIKE it! We could also use it as a weapon–“Come to the bargaining table, or we are going to launch POLITICIANS at you!”

    “Senile Politicians”–what good is a supersonic airplane that is faster than “the speed of thought”?