Air Force to purchase bankrupt Russian airline's planes for Air Force One: report

Air Force to purchase bankrupt Russian airline's planes for Air Force One: report
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The Air Force will reportedly attempt to lower costs on a pair of new presidential planes by buying two Boeing 747 jetliners abandoned by a bankrupt Russian airline.

Service officials are “working through the final stages of coordination to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Defense One.

The deal could be announced as soon as this week, though the Air Force is not expected to release the contract value, according to the report.

Officials said the Air Force is getting a "good deal" on the planes, which are, on average, listed at $386.8 million each.

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The two planes, which are slated to be altered to become Air Force One presidential aircraft, were originally ordered in 2013 by Russia’s second-biggest airline Transaero, which went bankrupt in 2015.

Boeing flight-tested and put the two jets in storage while it searched for a buyer, allowing the Air Force to negotiate a good deal for the planes, sources told Defense One.

The Air Force had plans to build two new Air Force Ones to replace their aging counterparts when President Trump slammed "out of control" replacement costs on Twitter in December.

Trump threatened to cancel the program and also claimed the two new presidential transport aircraft would cost $4 billion. The Pentagon’s 2018 budget request pegged two new Air Force One jets at $3.2 billion between 2018 and 2022.

The steep price tag stems from a need to meet security requirements, including secure communications, antimissile defenses and the ability to withstand an electromagnetic pulse in the event of a nuclear explosion.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has met with Trump since then and promised that the company will deliver “a better airplane at a lower cost.”

And Defense Secretary James Mattis in January ordered a review of the program to identify specific areas where costs can be lowered.