No In-Flight Fueling For New Air Force One?
The Air Force is proposing cutting costs on the future Air Force One aircraft by eliminating what has, until now, been considered an essential security measure. According to Defense One, Air Force brass are reportedly considering scrapping the converted Boeing 747-8i’s air-to-air refueling capability, saying the latest jumbo jets have all the range needed to get almost anywhere on earth from Washington. Up to this point, however, in-flight fueling has always been referred to as a means of keeping the aircraft in the air and the president out of harm’s way in a crisis. Defense One said it’s seen the Air Force briefing notes and those recommending the change have also said in-flight refueling has never been used, although some sources dispute that.
The magazine claims this and other proposed changes in capability and equipment are part of the Air Force’s drive to allow President Donald Trump to achieve a $1 billion saving on the estimated $4.2 billion replacement of the pair of 200-series 747s that currently serve as the “flying White House.” Among the other economy measures being considered are a more commercial interior and and off-the-shelf air handling system instead of an upgrade to the humidified air system used by 787 airliners. The Air Force is not tampering with the secure communications, self-defense and beefed-up electrical systems needed to support all the systems. The Air Force has already saved some money by buying off-the-shelf 747-8i aircraft that were in storage after the Russian airline that ordered them went bankrupt.