White House Letter: Air Force One, a Cherished Perk Awaiting an Upgrade

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President Obama boarding Air Force One after campaigning in Florida in 2012.

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Damon Winter/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Obama has already done transparent what he will skip a many when he leaves bureau in 15 months. “People infrequently ask me what a biggest perk of being boss is,” he told visitors during a White House final week. “No. 1 is a plane.”

In September, he told another assembly that “the craft is nice” and that unfortunately for him “my franchise is regulating out,” so he competence shortly have to “start holding off my boots again going by security.” In Kenya in July, he remarkable that when he visited as a immature male his luggage was lost: “That doesn’t occur on Air Force One.”

Let’s face it: The craft is, in fact, flattering nice, and a president’s luggage is indeed really frequency lost. But a craft is also removing old. And so after some-more than a million miles of drifting while in office, a stream primary newcomer is formulation to bequest his inheritor — or maybe his successor’s inheritor — a new-and-improved Air Force One spiffed adult for a smartphone age.

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Members of a Air Force One organisation set a stairs in place for President Obama’s lapse to Washington after a outing to Michigan and Arizona in January.

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Doug Mills/The New York Times

The Defense Department hopes to pointer an initial agreement with Boeing in a entrance weeks to start a prolonged routine of convention a new presidential aircraft means of ferrying a commander in arch around a universe with a ability to run a fight from midair if necessary. Built on a support of a Boeing 747-8, it will be bigger, some-more powerful, means to fly over and vastly some-more modernized technologically than a stream customized Boeing 747-200B jumbo jet.

Mr. Obama himself will not advantage from a trade-in. By some estimates, a new craft might not be accessible until 2023, when Hillary Rodham Clinton or Donald J. Trump or whoever beats them might be tighten to finishing adult a second term. And it will not be cheap. The Air Force has asked for $102 million in a entrance mercantile year and $3 billion over a subsequent 5 years, not counting any offer cost.

“It’s approach overdue,” pronounced Joseph W. Hagin, a White House emissary arch of staff underneath President George W. Bush who instituted skeleton for a new craft usually to see them suspended when a nation’s finances grew precarious. “You can hang new engines on it, we can squeeze all sorts of new record on it, though it’s still a really aged airplane.”

Air Force One is indeed not a singular plane; in fact, it is a radio call pointer used for any craft that happens to lift a president. There are dual 747-200s, designated VC-25As by a Air Force, that lift a boss unless he travels to a place where a runway is too short, in that box he switches to a smaller plane.

Those 747-200s, with tail codes 28000 and 29000, were consecrated by Ronald Reagan and delivered in 1990 underneath a initial President George Bush, when a Soviet Union was still around and White House aides used beepers. The vast communications creation during a time was a fax appurtenance that a president’s staff could use to keep in hold with a ground.

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A Navy ambulance accessible a physique of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, during Andrews Air Force Base outward Washington.

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Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Boeing stopped creation 747-200s some-more than dual decades ago, and usually 20 of them are left drifting in a world, especially as burden planes in building countries. Spare tools are no longer done for a plane, so a Air Force mostly has to have them tradition built. Inspections and upkeep work are so revisit that one or a other of a dual planes is mostly out of service.

Air Force One, of course, is not usually a plane. It is power. It is inhabitant identity. It is even a film star. The vast blue-and-white aircraft with “United States of America” emblazoned on a side has come to designate a nation and has prisoner a imagination of even Americans who have not seen a namesake film starring Harrison Ford as a boss fending off Russian hijackers.

Franklin D. Roosevelt became a initial boss to fly aboard a craft converted for his use, called a Sacred Cow, in 1945. The Air Force One nomination was pronounced to initial be used during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s tenure, though it has achieved such worldwide standing that a Kenyan lady who gave birth around a time of Mr. Obama’s revisit final summer even named her baby AirForceOne Barack Obama.

“That aeroplane represents each American, and it’s a pitch of a republic,” pronounced Jeff Underwood, a historian during a National Museum of a United States Air Force nearby Dayton, Ohio. “People see it as an prolongation not usually of a boss though a United States. It has a abdominal inhabitant honour arrange of thing.”

Nine prior Air Force One planes are on arrangement during a museum, including a Boeing 707 that carried John F. Kennedy to Dallas in Nov 1963, afterwards brought his physique behind to Washington after Lyndon B. Johnson took a promise of bureau on board. The Air Force One on arrangement during Reagan’s presidential library in California, seen during a new Republican presidential debate, is on loan from a Air Force Museum.

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President George W. Bush drifting from atmosphere bottom to atmosphere bottom on Air Force One on Sept. 11, 2001.

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Pool print by Doug Mills

The stream craft is a drifting White House with 4,000 block feet of space on 3 levels, including an office, discussion room, bedroom and medical apartment that can be used as an handling room. While impressive, it is not splashy in a clarity of Mr. Trump’s private jet with a gold-plated fixtures.

On a day of a Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, a second President Bush was kept drifting from atmosphere bottom to atmosphere bottom for fear of his being targeted, and he was deeply undone with uneven communications, heading to upgrades afterward.

The Air Force comparison Boeing as a builder of a subsequent craft progressing this year. The 747-8 that will offer as a support is 250 feet prolonged with a operation of scarcely 7,800 miles and 66,500 pounds of engine thrust. Once modified, it will be means of midair refueling, hardened opposite a electromagnetic beat of a chief blast and roughly positively versed with defenses to inhibit heat-seeking missiles.

This arrange of plan has a approach of ballooning in cost. A plan to build a new Marine One helicopter got so out of control that Mr. Obama’s administration canceled it after holding bureau and a new agreement has now been issued.

“We wish that doesn’t occur with a plane, that they’ve schooled their lesson,” pronounced Thomas A. Schatz, a boss of Citizens Against Government Waste, a organisation that criticized a Marine One project.

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As it is, given a reported $180,000-an-hour drifting cost, presidents are mostly criticized for regulating Air Force One for their domestic or personal purposes. But so far, members of both parties seem to be going along with skeleton for a new plane. After all, no one knows that side will have a White House when it becomes accessible for use.

“Air Force One gives us all that we want,” pronounced Robert F. Dorr, a author of a book about a plane. “It does communicate power, though it also conveys category and character and purpose. It’s usually sparkling to see it arrive. People get excited. They do adore it.”

Mr. Obama is not a usually boss to adore a plane. “I skip Air Force One,” a younger Mr. Bush pronounced final year. “In 8 years, they never mislaid my luggage.” This year, he steady a sentiment. “I miss, for example, a Air Force’s easy me with a showering on a aeroplane that flew me around,” he said.

When Mr. Obama campaigned with Bill Clinton in 2012, a obligatory joked about Air Force One. “Bill might not skip being president, though he misses that plane,” Mr. Obama said. “Let’s face it, he does. It’s a good plane. And I’ll skip it, too.”

“But not yet!” a believer called out.

Not yet. But shortly enough.