A top Pentagon official on Tuesday said that the new Air Force One jets being developed by Boeing may come a year later than initially expected and cost taxpayers additional money.
Acting Assistant Air Force Secretary Darlene Costello told lawmakers during a House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing that, based on information from Boeing, the new jets that were scheduled to be completed by 2024 under a $3.9 billion deal will not be ready until 2025.
“Boeing has informed us that they believe it will be a 12-month [delay] beyond their original schedule. That doesn’t mean that we agree with that yet,” Costello said, adding that the Air Force is conducting a “schedule risk assessment.”
“I wouldn’t expect that [delay] to be more than what Boeing is saying,” she added.
People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that Boeing, which in 2018 was awarded the contract to “design, modify, test, certify, and deliver” two flight-ready Air Force One planes, is expected to request an additional $500 million in government funding, citing an increase in costs amid the coronavirus pandemic and a supplier’s bankruptcy filing.
Costello said Tuesday that Boeing plans to submit this request, though an Air Force spokesman said it has not officially been filed yet.
The Pentagon official added Tuesday that the agency plans to deliver updated plans on changes to the schedule by September.
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee, said Tuesday that the delay was “a disappointment to all of us.”
When reached for comment, Boeing said in a statement to The Hill, “We continue to make steady progress and are working closely with the customer.”
Boeing is expected to replace the aging 747s currently in use that Boeing delivered when George H.W. Bush was in the Oval Office.
Boeing in the first quarter listed a $318 million charge due to costs associated with the pandemic, as well as problems with a supplier, GDC Technics LLC. Boeing also booked a $168 million charge last year, the Journal noted.
The jet manufacturer sued GDC Technics in April, citing alleged missed deadlines on the Air Force One project.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based supplier, which specializes in providing interiors for executive aircraft, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection that same month, and has blamed the Air Force One jet manufacturing delays on Boeing.