The U.S. Air Force has selected the Boeing 747-8 to serve as the new Air Force One, the jet that carries the U.S. president. The service announced on January 28 that it will enter into contract negotiations with Boeing to deliver up to three “Presidential ready” jets under the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program, with planned initial operational capability by 2023.
Analyses of the mission concluded that a four-engine widebody was needed and that only the 747 and the Airbus A380 could meet the requirements, the Air Force said. The European-made A380 was an unlikely choice for the high-profile mission, however.
“The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States that, when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the President of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.
The Air Force currently operates two modified Boeing 747-200Bs, designated as VC-25As, when carrying the President. While it intends to award a sole-source contract to Boeing for the new airframe, the service said it “wants to own enough of the technical baseline to permit competition for sustainment” over the presidential aircraft's planned 30-year service life.
“We are committed to incorporating competition for subsystems of the missionized aircraft as much as practicable, and will participate substantively in any competitions led by the prime contractor,” James said.