US president-elect Donald Trump woke up from a Big Mac-induced coma this morning to send off a tweet about Air Force One. Big Donny says the latest versions of the Air Force One being built by Boeing have become too expensive, and that the order should be cancelled.
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
It's worth wondering if Trump actually wants to keep his luxurious private jet just like he'd rather live in his Fifth Avenue tower than the White House. But regardless, the president-elect is demanding the United States cancel an order for a plane that he won't even get to use. The latest version of the Air Force One won't carry a president until 2024. If Trump doesn't get to use it, well, why should he care?
President-elect Trump on his desire to cancel Boeing’s Air Force One order: “We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money” pic.twitter.com/kIdpCy0JuX
— CNN (@CNN) December 6, 2016
The two Air Force One planes currently in use, highly modified Boeing 747-200B airliners known as VC-25s, are close to reaching the end of their 30-year life expectancy, and both require significant maintenance to stay in the air. Kevin W. Buckley, an Air Force executive who is overseeing the new planes, told Military.com earlier this year that "it's becoming way too expensive and way too difficult" to maintain the current pair of Air Force Ones. It's unclear where Trump is getting the $US4 billion ($5.3 billion) number from, as it's being widely reported that the Air Force budgeted $US1.65 billion ($2.2 billion) for the new planes between 2015 and 2019. Furthermore, the model selected to replace the old VC-25 airliners, the Boeing 747-8, has a list price of just $US379 million ($508 million). How Trump's maths adds up makes no sense.
It remains to be seen whether Trump will demand to stay on his gold-filled Boeing 757. Last month a US official told CNN it would be "nearly functionally impossible" for him not to fly on Air Force One. That's because the plane is equipped with communications equipment to receive classified information, as well as a myriad of defence measures. The plane can evade surface-to-air missiles, and has shielding to protect passengers from a nuclear blast. But with Trump, who knows! "No one tells the president he can't do something," the official told CNN. "Instead, you lay out all the reasons it's functionally impossible."
"[Trump's tweet was] completely nonsensical and based on exactly nothing," Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst, told The Washington Post. "But it's very difficult to adjudicate on complicated program management and military requirements questions with Twitter as your medium."
In other words, this Air Force One tweet kinda makes it seem like Donald Trump has no idea what he's talking about. Go figure!
Boeing has issued a statement in response to Trump's tweet. According to CNBC:
We are currently under contract for $170 million [$AU228 million] to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serves the unique requirements of the President of the United States. We look forward to working with the US Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best plans for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.
It remains unclear where Trump came up with the project's price tag of "over $4 billion" ($AU5.3 billion).