(Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday it would use Boeing Co’s commercial 747-8 airliner to replace its current fleet of two Air Force One presidential aircraft, one of the most visible symbols of the United States.
The decision comes a month after Boeing said it would slow production of the four-engine 747-8 aircraft to 1.3 a month from 1.5 a month because of declining orders.
“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,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah James in a statement.
No big surprise here. Pretty much what everyone expected. And while the service life of the current fleet (in terms of flight hours and cycles) is quite low, parts and maintenance costs are creeping up. The 747-8 might not have the sales Boeing had hoped, but the support should be there going forward.
I’m not entirely opposed to a few boondoggles in the defense budget. Blowing a trillion dollars on the fundamentally flawed JSF program? Yes. A couple billion for a new plane for the President, eh. We waste a lot more money on social programs.