Looking for a New Air Force One, Again

The search is back on for a replacement for Air Force One, says the Dayton Business Journal, almost five years after the US Air Force last issued a "sources sought" notice for what it calls the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization (PAR) program.

Back in January 2009, the Air Force was looking for three new-build, commercial-derivative widebody aircraft to replace its VC-25As (747-200s), with the first one to enter service in fiscal 2017 - when the existing aircraft reach their 30-year design lives.

This time around, the USAF is looking to replace the VC-25s with "new commercial derivative aircraft projected for delivery not earlier than 2021". It goes on to say it is seeking information on "a four-engined widebody commercial platform" that can meet its power, passenger load, safety and range requirements.

blog post photo
Concept: Airbus

Back in 2009, EADS decided not respond to the RFI by offering the Airbus A380, and it is hard to see the company reversing that decision after all that has happened with KC-X, VXX, LUH, AAS etc. So it would look like the 747-8 is the only option (if Boeing can keep it in production till then!).

There could still be a competition, however, as the solicitation is worded to allow companies that would acquire and modify the aircraft to bid. So there could be a contest in which Boeing - or even Airbus - supplies other companies with "green" aircraft for modification into next-gen Air Force Ones.

Responses are due by October 9, if you feel like bidding...

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