Why President-Elect Donald Trump Says Air Force One Costs ‘Out Of Control,’The Numbers Behind The Sky-High Claims Here!
Anyone can assume that the Air Force One - the official aircraft of the US President designed specifically to guarantee his safety when flying out for trips, is very expensive to operate and maintain. Even President-elect Donald Trump himself share the same sentiments.
Trump, in typical bombastic fashion, took to Twitter to blast Boeing. He claimed that the Air Force One's exorbitant costs - reportedly within the region of $4 billion, would be enough for him to cancel the government's "order" with the company once he assumes office.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 6, 2016
As shocking as that claim may be to US taxpayers, a closer look at the facts shows that Trump's hyperbolic tweet are, well, hyperbolic. Here are the numbers that provide clarity beyond the President-elect's rather-outlandish claims on the Air Force One.
2 - The number of aircraft currently designated as Air Force One. The government requires that at least one spare jet should be available for use as Air Force One in case the other one needs to undergo repairs, according to The Washington Post. The name "Air Force One" technically refers to the call sign to any jet that carries the US President, contrary to claims that it refers to the name of the jet itself.
30 - The number of years planned as the life cycle for the current Air Force One jets. Boeing delivered the two jets back in 1990. The Pentagon stated that the jets are facing a plethora of problems as it reaches its 30-year cycle: "capability gaps, rising maintenance costs, and parts obsolescence."
747-800 - The Boeing model selected to replace the current 747-200B Air Force One jets back in 2015. Boeing is currently on the research phase of the next-generation Air Force One project. The new jets are slated for delivery in 2024 - if Trump doesn't "cancel the order," or in far-more accurate terms, postpone the ongoing program indefinitely.
$170 million - The amount of the contract given to Boeing to research and design the next-generation Air Force One jets. Contrary to Trump's claims, Boeing isn't building anything yet, but it needs to spend as much to completely re-engineer the 748-800s slated to receive the Air Force One call sign. Re-engineering would then involve the creation of measures that will provide it with the latest security countermeasures - protection against nuclear wars being just one of them. So just imagine how much research Boeing needs just to protect the US President in-flight.
$2.8 billion - The amount specified by the Defense Department for its five-year plan to design and develop the new Air Force one jets. Fortune has provided a breakdown of the amount per fiscal year (FY):
- FY 2017: $351.2 million
- FY 2018: $625.6 million
- FY 2019: $741 million
- FY 2020: $573.7 million
- FY 2021: $487.3 million
Interestingly, these costs - albeit not too far from Trump's $4 billion claim, are considered as one-time payments allotted for the replacement of the current Air Force One jets. Such is quite different from Trump's remark that the costs are "out of control." Besides, said plan has yet to gain the approval of Congress, which for its part would certainly deliberate some practical and doable cost-cutting measures.
But if anyone's going to point out the $206,337 hourly costs for the sophisticated airliner, then they should consider this instead: protecting the person running the most powerful country in the world doesn't, and will never, come cheap, what with the various threats the US constantly faces. Watch TIME Magazine's interview with Trump on Boeing's Air Force One contract below: