In the latest version of the Pentagon’s aviation plans it was revealed that plans are being put in place to replace the aging planes that ferry the President around the world. The Boeing 747 varient the VC-25, has been the primary means of transport since 1991 and the 2 planes are in need of retiring.
“We have recognized for several years now that the Air Force One replacement is out there in our future in the late teens,” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said during a briefing at an Air Force Association conference.
George W. Bush’s administration had tried to get the ball rolling on Air Force One recapitalization before the end of his second term in the White House, but due to the economy being crippled, it was canceled.
Why do they need a new plane?
The old Air Force One uses 4 General Electric CF6-80C2B1 turbofans pumping out 56,700 lbs of thrust. The planes just do not have enough power with these engines. The new engines on the 787 Dreamliner can produce up to 75,000 lbs of force and has a modern airframe capable of handling that much stress. Mix in the need for more sophisticated avionics and technology that the President needs to have, and the fact that Air Force One is a beacon of freedom and an ambassador of the technology and might that the United States represents it is time for an aircraft that was at least built last decade.
Can afford to?
That is the big question. This is the reason President Bush tried to get the ball rolling on this while he was in office. The process of getting a new plane can take up to 10 years. So this needs to be done not for this President, but for the next President. In the recent past, President Obama has been critical of the use of corporate jets for transportation so it is a bit of a surprise to see this in the Pentagon’s aviation plans. Aside from all of that, with the air craft being so old, and being used so much, it is prudent for them to do so. Because even if you don’t like whomever is the President, he is the leader of the military and we voted him in office. So how can we not afford to?
Check out this hour long documentary on the current Air Force One: