Air Force One
Air Force One

The Boeing Company was awarded a contract Jan. 29 for risk reduction activities for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program, which will field the next Air Force One.

This is the first contract the Air Force has awarded for this program. Additional modifications will be made to this contract in the future to purchase the commercial 747-8 aircraft, as well as to design, modify and test those aircraft to meet the presidential mission.

These efforts are the first step in a deliberate process to control program risks and life cycle costs. These activities will include the definition of detailed requirements and design trade-offs required to support informed decisions that will lead to a lower risk Engineering and Manufacturing Development program and lower life cycle costs.

“This is the start of our contractual relationship with Boeing. It will allow Boeing to begin working on what will be the next Air Force One,” said Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager. “This initial effort is about reducing risk, really understanding where the tough work will be, finding affordability opportunities, and getting the best value for the taxpayer, while continuing to meet the needs of our commander in chief.”

The secretary of the Air Force has made it clear that affordability will be a key element of the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program.

“We will continue to insist upon program affordability through cost conscious procurement practices,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James.

“The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America at home and abroad,” James said. “We will ensure the next Air Force One 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.”

The Air Force wants to own enough of the technical baseline to permit competition for modifications and sustainment throughout the aircraft’s planned 30-year life cycle. Competition can keep costs down, spur innovation and provide technical options.

“We are focused on ensuring this program is affordable,” McCain said. “This contract gets us started on determining how to modify a 747-8 to become the next Air Force One, and finding opportunities for cost reduction through detailed requirements choices, competition of subsystems, and in the sustainment of the aircraft after it has been fielded.”

“The current fleet of VC-25A presidential aircraft has performed exceptionally well, a testament to the Airmen who support, maintain and fly the aircraft,” James said. “Yet, it is time to replace them. Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded.”