The White House and Boeing announced Tuesday that they had struck an informal, $3.9 billion deal for two new 747s. According to the White House, "Thanks to the President's negotiations, the contract will save the taxpayers more than $1.4 billion."
Boeing announced in a tweet: “Boeing is proud to build the next generation of Air Force One, providing American Presidents with a flying White House at outstanding value to taxpayers. President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people.”
Boeing plans to have the planes ready by 2024, although President Donald Trump has expressed that he would like to see them in operation by 2021.
The relationship between President Trump and Boeing had gotten off to a rocky start, when then president-elect Trump tweeted on Dec. 6, 2016: “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!”
However, now the White House and Boeing both put the actual initial cost at around $5 billion. CNN reported that the White House said “the President-elect was operating off of ‘bad information in 2016.’”
According to CNBC, “the two planes were originally supposed to be sold to Russia. When that deal fell through, the Air Force acquired the aircraft at a slightly discounted price.”
Although these planes will be specifically created for that purpose, the designation Air Force One applies to whichever plane the president is currently flying in.
A large amount of the cost for these planes comes from outfitting them with modifications to turn them each into something closer to a flying military bunker than a conventional plane. According to Boeing’s website, each “flying Oval Office” will be equipped for longer range flying and aerial refueling, have a multi-frequency radio and satellite communication system, advanced navigation equipment, and two galleys “that can provide 100 meals at one sitting.”
Air Force One needs to be able to serve as a safe place for the president in times of crisis. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Air Force One stayed airborne for eight hours to ensure that President George W. Bush would not be at risk.