Just one day after complaining about the exorbitant cost of new “Air Force Ones,” Donald Trump has forced Boeing’s hand.
They said they’d be happy to sit down and talk to the president-elect about ways to reduce costs, Bloomberg reports.
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
Boeing executives told Trump’s transition team that the costs could be lowered if the government “agrees to reduce its requirements for the plane.”
Boeing was given the no-bid contract for the production of three brand-new aircraft – replacements of Air Force One, Air Force Two, and a spare, we presume. There are no other American companies capable of producing an aircraft with the specifications needed. The Air Force would have to look to Airbus in Europe for any competition, which wasn’t going to happen.
The tweet came as a surprise to Boeing. “Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” Trump said in his tweet. “Cancel order!”
Boeing’s reaction was swift:
“We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of this complex military aircraft that serves the unique requirements of the President of the United States,” Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said in an e-mail. “We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best plane for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
The Pentagon already is budgeting $3.2 billion for research and development, military construction and acquisition of two of the Air Force One planes through fiscal 2021, said Kevin Brancato, the lead government contracts analyst for Bloomberg Government. More money is anticipated in the two years after that. Boeing 747-8 planes average about $225 million each, he said, which means most of the expenses will go to outfitting the planes for presidential use.
The Air Force and Boeing are still conducting work to reduce the program’s technical risks before the company is awarded an advanced development contract, Captain Michael Hertzog, a spokesman for the service branch, said in an e-mail. Budgeted spending can be expected “to change as the program matures with the completion of the risk reduction activities,” he said.
“This is what an Air Force One costs,” Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group, said of Trump’s tweet. “There have been no cost overruns. The ability to fly the president during a war is fundamentally expensive.”
Perhaps – or, as Barack Obama suggested back in 2009, perhaps the procurement process has “run amok.” Back then, as president-elect, he complained about the cost overruns for building as man as 28 helicopters to serve in the president’s fleet.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said once he takes office, Trump will be much more engaged in saving taxpayer dollars.
“This really speaks to the president-elect’s focus on keeping costs down across the board,” Miller told reporters on a conference call. The plane’s price “is a very big number.”
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