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Air Force secretary hits back at Trump: Boeing contract 'a bit more complicated

U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James attends the Paris Air Show. (AP/Christophe Ena)

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James pushed back on President-elect Donald Trump's tweet Tuesday morning taking Boeing to task for the cost of its Air Force One replacement program, saying: "It is a bit more complicated."

The two new 747s, which are being built by aerospace giant Boeing, will need rare features like the ability to withstand an attack by missile and top-flight communications offerings, James told Politico Tuesday, making them cost a lot more than the average passenger airplane.

"Air Force One, although it is a 747 platform, is way, way more than what you would think of as a commercial airliner," James told Politico in an interview. "It really is, in many ways, a flying White House, in terms of the security. There's countermeasures built in, communications, very high level communications, security of all types. After all, this is carrying the president of the United States. It has to go long distances, it has to survive under difficult circumstances, much more difficulty than a normal civilian airliner. So it is a bit more complicated than perhaps meets the eye."

Those added features have been requested by White House security teams, she added.

"Those requirements then come to the Air Force and our job is to build the acquisition strategy around it to deliver those requirements," she said. "In other words, we didn't make up all these security factors and communications standards.”

The only way to lower the price tag for the new 747s would be to worsen their technical requirements, she added.

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