President Donald Trump waves to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Feb. 1, 2018. USAF photo by TSgt. Robert Cloys.
The White House on Tuesday announced a deal with Boeing for the next Air Force One, buying two 747-8is for $3.9 billion.
The reported deal is a $1.4 billion drop from an unofficial estimate from the White House of $5 billion for two aircraft and support costs, according to FOX News. President Trump first objected to the cost of the program in late 2016 when the cost estimate was about $4 billion, Tweeting that costs were out of control and that he wanted to cancel the order.
Since then, Boeing has taken multiple cost-saving steps, including buying two 747-8is back from the boneyard. The aircraft were originally produced for a now-defunct Russian airliner, but where never flown and went straight to storage in the Mojave desert. In September, the White House and Boeing determined the next Air Force One would not have aerial refueling capability.
“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,” the company said in a statement. “President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people.”
The Air Force has said it plans to modify and test the refurbished 747-8is with the goal to be “presidential mission-ready by 2024.” Modifications are expected to begin next year.
Before Fiscal 2019, the Air Force had spent $1.03 billion on the program and it plans to spend about $2.92 billion over the next five years, according to budget documents.
The new jets will replace two VC-25As, based on Boeing’s 747-200B, which first entered service in 1990. The Air Force itself on Tuesday referred all questions to the White House.