Air Force One Replacement Delay Could Mean More Maintenance for Existing Planes

The existing VC-25As, known as Air Force One when the President is on board, may have to undergo another maintenance cycle, requiring Air Mobility Command to take funding from other requirements, as the replacement program faces a possible schedule delay.

Boeing presented the Air Force with a revised schedule for the production of the VC-25B, which would push back the delivery of the first aircraft by one year to 2025. Darlene Costello, the acting assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, said during a June 9 House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing that the Air Force is reviewing this schedule and will make a decision on it by September.

“Boeing has proposed, or informed, us that they believe they will be about 12 months beyond their original schedule. That doesn’t mean that we agree with that yet,” she said.

The most recent schedule change comes after the company’s supplier, GDC Technics LLC, filed for bankruptcy after Boeing canceled its contracts because of schedule delays. The company in April reported a $318 million pre-tax charge on the program because of this issue and COVID-19 impacts.

Boeing received a $3.9 billion contract in 2018 to build the two jets, but Costello said the company has reached out to the Air Force to negotiate a price adjustment for the program.

Lt. Gen. Brian S. Robinson, deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, said during a June 9 Defense News event that because of the VC-25A’s mission, carrying the President of the United States, the aircraft gets its best support and expertise.

If the VC-25s need to enter another extensive maintenance cycle it would mean AMC would “have to divert resources from other things that we’d like to do to cover any gap that might be there. So, there will be some stresses there, … but if we come to that position to make that decision, we’ll make it in favor of being priority one to support and protect the President of the United States.”