Air Force One Deal Near


President Donald Trump has again intervened in the negotiations with Boeing to modify two new 747-8i airliners to serve as the primary Air Force One aircraft and backup but it remains to be seen if the president’s promise of $1 billion in savings will be realized. Defense One reported Trump met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg at the White House last Tuesday to try to break an impasse between the Air Force, which normally buys its own airplanes, and Boeing. The Air Force wants a fixed-price deal, meaning Boeing would eat any overruns, but Boeing is less keen on the idea. The Air Force already has the aircraft. It bought two 747-8is that were supposed to go to a Russian airline that went bankrupt, so the negotiations are about the many modifications required.

Defense One’s sources said the logjam was broken in the White House meeting and details are expected in the next few weeks. Shortly after his election, Trump tweeted that the agreed-to $4 billion deal for the new jets should be canceled because of the cost. Trump later said he’d managed to shave $1 billion off the cost. One of the casualties of the cost-cutting was reported to be air-to-air refueling capability. The rationale for the move was that new 747s can reach just about anywhere on the planet from Washington without a fill-up but refueling is also considered a strategic necessity in case the aircraft needs to stay airborne in a prolonged crisis. It seems like that need is still a factor since the Air Force recently spent $24 million to replace the refrigerators on the current aircraft so they can store the 3,000 meals that are normally loaded to sustain occupants for a long flight.