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

Air Force awards $600M contract for initial Air Force One design
© Getty Images

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."

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment 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: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Mattis hints at US military options for North Korea Mattis: US to send 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan 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.