White House: New Air Force One will benefit future presidents

White House: New Air Force One will benefit future presidents
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The White House on Tuesday defended its efforts to develop a new Air Force One after President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE called for the cancellation of a contract with Boeing to build the new aircraft.
 
“I think the American people would expect that future presidents would benefit from unique and upgraded capabilities while flying aboard Air Force One,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on board the presidential plane en route to Tampa. 
 
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Earnest said the upgrades to the new plane, which include security enhancements, are being made per the recommendation of national security experts. 
 
But he said it was up to the Trump administration to determine whether the project will be completed. 
 
“The updated Air Force One is not set to come online until 2023,” he said. “This is a longer-range plan, but ultimately the planning work that we have done on behalf of future presidents is something the next administration will have to decide to carry forward.”
 
Trump caused a stir earlier on Tuesday when he balked at the cost of the project. 
 
“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” he tweeted.
 
He told reporters that he thought the U.S.-based aerospace company “is doing a little bit of a number.” 
 
“We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money,” he said.
 
Earnest appeared to dispute the $4 billion figure mentioned by Trump, saying "some of the statistics that have been cited, shall we say, don't appear to reflect the nature of the financial agreement between Boeing and the Department of Defense."
 
The Pentagon announced in January that Boeing had won the contract to replace the current Air Force One jets, which began flying in the early 1990s. 
 
The initial contract was worth $25.8 million, according to Reuters, but the Air Force planned on spending as much as $1.65 billion on two new planes
 
But a Government Accountability Office report from last March put the cost at around $3.2 billion. 
 
Boeing said in a statement Tuesday the company is “currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States.”
 
President Obama also expressed similar concerns about presidential aircraft shortly after he took office.
 
In 2009, he ordered the Pentagon to go back to the drawing board on plans for new Marine One helicopters, saying the Lockheed-Martin program’s costs had spiraled out of control. 
 
Earnest voiced confidence the revamped program would deliver a helicopter “that President-elect Trump will be glad that he has.”