Boeing’s New Air Force One To Get Additional Scrutiny

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The U.S. Air Force has installed a two-star general to oversee Boeing’s fledgling Air Force One replacement, adding a new level of scrutiny to the high-profile program just months after President Donald Trump criticized its excessive cost.

The Air Force promoted Brig. Gen. Duke Richardson to major general to fill the newly created position of Program Executive Officer (PEO) for Presidential Airlift Recapitalization (PAR), according to spokeswoman Ann Stefanek.

The move shows the Air Force is taking seriously Trump’s criticism of the high cost of Boeing’s new Air Force One. Richardson is an apt apt choice for the job – as PEO for tankers he currently heads development of the next-generation KC-46 Pegasus, also a high-profile Boeing program.

The Air Force decided to create the new two-star position due to recent high level interest in the Air Force One recap program and a desire to place it “under strong and effective senior general officer leadership,” Stefanek said. The presidential aircraft program was previously under PEO Mobility.

Trump slammed the cost of Boeing’s new Air Force One, based on the 747-8, in a tweet just before taking office, saying costs are out of control at more than $4 billion to develop two aircraft, and calling on the Air Force to cancel the order. Soon afterwards Trump met with Boeing head Dennis Muilenberg, who personally promised to deliver a new Air Force One for less than $4 billion.

Since then, Trump has claimed he saved $1 billion on the new aircraft, which will replace the two modified Boeing 747-200s that currently make up the Air Force One fleet. The only problem is, the Air Force is stumped by the claim, with multiple officials saying they have no idea what Trump is talking about.

The Air Force did recently finalize a requirements review of PAR, directed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, according to Lt. Gen. Arnie Bunch, the service’s top uniformed acquisition official. The service has made some changes to the requirements that Bunch said he hopes will drive down the cost of the program, but he would not provide details.

So far PAR is in its very early stages – the government has so far awarded Boeing just $170 million in development contracts for risk reduction and other preliminary work. The Air Force has budgeted $2.87 billion in research and development funds through fiscal 2021 to build two aircraft for fielding in 2024, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office projects the total cost will be $3.2 billion.

Richardson becomes program executive for the presidential aircraft immediately. However, he will continue as PEO for tankers until his replacement, Col. Donna Shipton, arrives in early June, Stefanek said.

[Editor's Note: This blog was amended to correct aircraft designations.]

 

Discuss this Blog Entry 84

on Mar 28, 2017

Strange the article says twice the new Air Force One is based on a 747-200. That is the current AF1, the new one will be a 747-8.

on Mar 29, 2017

Where does it mention the B742 twice?

on Mar 29, 2017

Added at the bottom of the article:
[Editor's Note: This blog was amended to correct aircraft designations.]

on Mar 28, 2017

I never knew the current Air Force Ones were 737 based, like the article says. They sure look like a 747-200 to me.

on Mar 29, 2017

Where does it say they are B737 based? Just curious.

on Mar 28, 2017

Trump should have the US Air Force skip this purchase and simply retrofit the current Air Force One fleet before ordering a set of Boeing 797.

on Mar 29, 2017

The B789 is a B757 replacement not a B747.

on Mar 28, 2017

"The Air Force decided to create the new two-star position due to recent high level interest in the Air Force One recap program and a desire to place it “under strong and effective senior general officer leadership,”
- AW&ST

How much does a two star general and support staff add to the yearly cost?

Stroke The Leader's ego and prosper.

on Mar 29, 2017

Honestly not much, remember he is already on the payroll in the USAF along with the people who will get assigned to him. The most it will cost him is the office they give him, the lines for the phones, Comm making a new email in box for him, and a few door plaques to show who it is when you go to visit the office directly.

on Mar 29, 2017

That assumes he is has a lot of free time on his hands and is not fully occupied with his tasks today. Hopefully (for him and the US taxpayer) this is not the case. However you spin this, these are additional costs

on Mar 29, 2017

Stijn.

If they reassign a Gen. to that new position, then that IS his new Task, he wouldn't have another task. That's the advantage of creating a military position within the military, you just move people to it, aside from maybe some Security updates which would cost money, nothing else would be costing tax payers more. He's already a Major General within the USAF, it's not like they are just going to go grab some random civilian and pay him that rank and position.

on Mar 29, 2017

Higher pay grade plus extra staff and perks.
New level of scrutiny? No, just another layer of bureaucracy.

on Mar 29, 2017

The two current Airforce One B747-200 a/c must have low TSN/CSN. Why should we taxpayers invest fortunes just to get 2 new B747-8 a/c?? There is plenty of life remaining in the 2 B747-200's. The maintenance cost, and upgrades are peanuts compared to the cost of a new 2-aircraft program.

on Mar 29, 2017

Spare parts for such old a/c are getting harder to come by.

on Mar 29, 2017

The engineer on the current Air Force One has to be pretty close to the last 747 engineer on earth, and by the time the new one comes online, he surely will be.

on Mar 29, 2017

Actually their numbers are higher than you might think since they are 1980's vintage aircraft, and as a result they have become rather costly to operate. Hence the desire and planning by the USAF to replace them.

on Mar 29, 2017

Planes like this maintenance is based largely on the hours they fly, are they wanting to avoid the major strip down D check, which would take it one of service for 6 months at least ? I suppose it would be policy to only use new parts and no 'reconditioned' ones.

on Mar 29, 2017

The "New Parts Only" is the policy I believe is what was said in the documentary. So they definitely want to try and avoid used/refurbished parts when they can. Also since it is the POTUS plane, they do inspect it on different time scale then normal 747's.

It's weird how people don't realize how hard it is to strip everything out of a plane & the cost of it, especially that size and try and replace it with new stuff & the cost of that, while still having the old stuff you can't get rid off because it's part of the airframe.

on Mar 29, 2017

"The U.S. Air Force has installed a two-star general to oversee Boeing’s fledgling Air Force One replacement ..."

Does he understand that the taxpayer is not a cash cow to be milked to death???

on Mar 29, 2017

I think you get what you pay for, and a 30+ year old custom built aircraft is a nice antique, but limits the capabilities of the worlds greatest super power to responsive leadership.

on Mar 29, 2017

Mr Trump isn't interested in the price of those aircraft. He just likes to hear his own voice and see his name in the headlines. I am sure the cost of restoring two presidential aircraft from the AF museum hangers at Wright-Patterson would be far cheaper than buying the two new 747-8s and would satisfy his "budget concerns".

But wouldn't satisfy his ego.

on Mar 29, 2017

These planes were ordered under the Obama regime. Knock it off on your cheap snowflake criticism of the President

on Mar 29, 2017

These planes were not ordered "by" the Obama administration, nor has any administration "ordered" replacements. It is the USAF's responsibility to operate and maintain these aircraft, and the orders and specifications come from them. The current VC-25 aircraft have been flying every POTUS since Ronald Reagan around the world, and as a result of their age and use are now quite costly to operate (>$200K/hr). This is why the USAF is planning on their replacement, and not from any single POTUS' vanity or ego.

on Mar 29, 2017

No planes have been "ordered".

The Air Force gave Boeing a no-bid contract to study development based on the 747 platform, because to go forward with the illusion that any other platform was going to be chosen was a simply a waste of money.

There is no plane, other than a 787-8 shell, of some sort yet to be determined.

on Mar 29, 2017

You're confusing "regime" with "administration."

"Regime" is what you get when the leader of the country is not chosen by the majority, something that's happened every time a Republican has been in the office since 1988, save for The W in 2004 during his illegal war.

You know, like some banana republic.

on Mar 30, 2017

You might want to go back and read your high school government books. The electoral college was set up by some smart people.
As Ben Franklin said, "true democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb deciding what's for lunch."

on Apr 20, 2017

The Electoral College was set up so that big states didn't dominate small states. They were smart people. So are we. Millions more voted the other way. It is small states dominating big states. Wyoming has 3.5 times the electoral college power v. California. CA has 700,000 people per electoral vote, WY has 196,000 per. If CA had the same ratio they would have 195 electoral votes. Would you like that in mayoral and/or senatorial elections?

on Mar 30, 2017

But your "cheap snowflake criticism" of the former president is OK how?

on Mar 29, 2017

These planes were ordered under the Obama regime. So knock it off in you lies and cheap snowflake comments of the President

on Mar 29, 2017

Not to mention that the new aircraft will not be in service until after President Trump finishes his second term of office.
The sore-loser liberals really need to get over the fact that their candidate lost last November.

on Mar 29, 2017

HA! you're talking like most people didn't want someone else.

on Mar 29, 2017

No planes have been 'ordered'. The only contract was for a sort of 'study'
It was Obama who cancelled the ridiculously expensive helicopters under construction for POTUS, ( VH71)which were 'ordered' under GW Bush.
That was a $3 bill waste of money which would have ended up costing $13 bill.

on Mar 30, 2017

I'm sure we all look forward to you quoting the contract number and date to back up that statement.

on Mar 29, 2017

Reading this and especially an older Aviation Week story about "POTUS polka in the sky" from October 2016 I'm quite bewildered about the discussion about costs for AF1. POTUS is first and foremost the supreme commander of all US forces and especially the nuclear arm. In this function absolutely every expense and precautionary measure is justified to ensure that the chain of command remains intact under any imaginable circumstances. This means to be able to protect POTUS in case even of surprise nuclear attack and to extract him from whatever location to safety within minutes. AF1 in this context is not a means of comfortable transport but a strategic communications and rescue asset of utmost national significance. And speaking of costs: Nobody ever has even mentioned the cost of the Presidential Successor System which runs in the background since more than 40 years to ensure the chain of command in any case even if POTUS is dead or disabled. This system includes the careful management of the whereabouts and wheretogos of all candidates on the list of presidential succesion and the movement of multiple assets every day with the ultimate goal of having ensured the chain of command. If you're a Super Power with nuclear weapons you have to pay a price ...

on Mar 29, 2017

There are two arguments taking place here. One is the cost of adding to, and maintaining, a large presidential fleet of aircraft which, I believe, is too large. In the event of a nuclear attack (for example) the President and his entourage will simply require an 'aircraft' ... fitted with the necessary electronics, etc. for additional purposes ... but nothing 'gold-plated. The other argument about promoting an existing two-star general and tailoring a new uniform, is just ridiculous.

on Mar 29, 2017

Except it seems that most of the expense associated with this aircraft is to provide the necessary electronics and in-flight refueling capability. A nicely-appointed executive jet with gold-plated fixtures would be much cheaper.

on Mar 29, 2017

I'm sure that's the way Agent Orange sees it.

on Mar 29, 2017

Ok, we get it, taken-for-a-ride, you're one of the die-hard sore-loser liberals that can't get over the fact that your token candidate lost last November. Now, go outside and play before your naptime, the adults have things to do.

on Mar 29, 2017

The last time you "adults" played we ended up in two unwinnable wars. More of the same to come? The question was about the costs of the replacement aircraft. I don't like Trump or any of his cronies but if he can bring out-of-control weapons costs into the realm of fiscal responsibility then I'll give his due. But he won't.

on Mar 29, 2017

"in case even of surprise nuclear attack and to extract him from whatever location to safety within minutes". Seriously? You've been watching too many action movies. Any attack like that would of course be a "surprise". I mean do you think someone's going to call us up and say, "by the way, we're going to be lobbing some missiles your way tomorrow, so be prepared!". And in such a situation, the time it would take to get a helicopter airborne from Andrews AFB and to the White House to pick up the POTUS would certainly not be minutes. Not to mention the time then required to get AF1 ramped up and ready for TO.

on Mar 30, 2017

Please, ALL of you, remember that Air Force One has been a "Vacation " perk...
and for O' bambam and family an over $ 90 MILLION one........on you and me

on Mar 30, 2017

Good thing the Current CinC only uses AF1 to go golfing every other weekend....Though the stats are fast hitting the $90M mark for his 3 Day Vacation trips!

on Mar 29, 2017

The life of an aircraft would (or should) take into account the number of takeoffs and landings which, in the case of AF-1 would be, I believe, with its many short domestic flights, higher than most heavy airliners. Although, probably, the fewer international flights may balance the number.

on Mar 30, 2017

It's like a car on the highway vs city driving. More wear and tear is put on it on short flights. Take off, land, take off land, take off land, take off land...tires, brakes, gear cycles, flap cycles, slat cycles, constant landing and take-off stresses, all those add up fast on domestic flights, especially for a heavy, not to mention the aircraft pressurizing and depressurizing so much in short time period.

Leave Andrews: take-off config, gear up...level off, cruise config
Land at Langley: landing config, descend.. gear down, stop, clean config for tax.
Leave Langley: take-off config, gear up...level off...cruise config
next location repeat process before returning to Andrews.
Verses
Leave Andrews, take off get to cruise and head to UK. Just one take off and land cycle, putting less stress on the airframe overall.

on Mar 29, 2017

I'd like to see Trump in an updated Tu-114. He could probably get a real deal on one from His comrade Vlad. An added benefit would be the noise the damn thing generates: it would make it impossible to hear His irksome voice. And small wonder that the AF has no idea what He's talking about with the $1B savings He claims -He doesn't have a clue either.

on Mar 29, 2017

It is a must to renew the VC fleet beacsuse they are the showcase of the fantastic US aerospace industry.

Replace the VC-25A with brand new 747-8I.

Replace the VC-32A with brand new 787-8 or 787-9

Replave the VC-40 with brand new 737MAX

And add Gulfstream G650 to the VC- fleet.

on Mar 29, 2017

All with solid gold toilets?

on Mar 30, 2017

No gold toilets on the USAF 747's.
There's plenty of gold on the King of Saudi Arabia's 747s though. While the US taxpayer didn't pay for the King's aircraft, much of the world's purchasers of oil did.

While the interior appointments of the VC-25 aircraft are nice, they are spartan compared to the executive aircraft of many other head-of-state aircraft, Trump's personal 757, or even the 1st Class section of an Emirates airliner.

The big price inflator is the military equipment added for secure communications and self-defense.

on Apr 3, 2017

Pretty sure those are in the KC-46 (maybe ask Gates?)

on Mar 29, 2017

The point of this article was to bash Trump; no surprise here.

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