Air Force awards $600M contract for initial Air Force One design

Air Force awards $600M contract for initial Air Force One design
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The Air Force has awarded a $600 million contract to Boeing for “preliminary design efforts” on the new Air Force One planes, officials announced Wednesday.

The contract covers the design of electrical power upgrades, a mission communication system, medical facility, executive interior, self-defense system and autonomous ground operations capabilities, according to the Air Force.

Maj. Gen. Duke Richardson, executive officer of the Air Force's presidential airlift recapitalization program, called the contract "the next major step forward toward ensuring an overall affordable program."

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The Air Force announced in August that it purchased two commercial Boeing 747 jetliners to be transformed into the new Air Force One planes.

The deal made headlines since the planes were originally built for Transaero, a now-defunct Russian airline. The airline was never in possession of the planes before going bankrupt.

Because the planes were already built and sitting in storage, the Air Force said it was able to get a good deal. But the value of the contract was not released. The Air Force cited Boeing, which considered it sensitive competitive information.

Then-President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Democrat slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘serious case of amnesia’ after testimony Skier Lindsey Vonn: I don’t want to represent Trump at Olympics Poll: 4 in 10 Republicans think senior Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia MORE slammed the cost of the Air Force One replacement program, tweeting in December to “cancel order!”

In January, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE ordered a review of the program to find cost-saving measures.

The Pentagon’s 2018 budget request pegged two new Air Force One jets at $3.2 billion between 2018 and 2022. The aircraft are expected to be ready to serve as presidential aircraft starting in 2024.

In Wednesday’s announcement, the Air Force said it was working with Boeing on another contract modification that would cover detailed design, aircraft modification, test and delivery of the planes. That contract is expected to be awarded in summer 2018.