Air Force One is the president’s plane to use at his discretion. Technically, the call sign can be used with any plane that the president is currently flying on. However, colloquially, the term refers to the president’s personal plane given to be used after taking the oath of office. According to Britannica, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to fly. It took until the 1960s for the president to get his own plane resembling close to what he has today. President John F. Kennedy’s plane was the first iteration that resembles what the president has today. That plane was passed down to the succeeding presidents until the 1990s when it was swapped out for a newer model. That model is currently hovering around 30 years of age and the process of building the next generation of the Air Force One is well underway. Here’s what is expected to be in the newest iteration.
Today’s Air Force One
In order to understand what the next one will bring, it is important to understand what the current version is like. Each version of Air Force One has been the epitome of luxury in its time. The current model has only been used by five presidents over the course of the last thirty years and has a fraction of the wear and tear that other commercial planes have at the same age as the plane spends much more time sitting than flying.
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Today’s plane has top-of-the-line electronics. It also has a 4,000 square-foot “flying oval office” per Boeing’s website. It also has a spacious interior and room for assistants to work with accommodating rest areas. It also has a 12,000-mile range on one tank of gas. The plane is a custom-built piece of machinery specifically for the president. Boeing says that “Principal differences between Air Force One and the standard Boeing 747 include state-of-the-art navigation, electronic and communications equipment; its interior configuration and furnishings; self-contained baggage loader; and front and aft air-stairs.”
The president also gets his own lounge and bedroom. The bedroom contains two fold-down beds that are bigger than twins. There is also his own closet and a shower. Televisions are placed throughout the plane. The first president to fly on it was George H.W. Bush and described it as “marvelous in every way. Latest in technology, certainly. And very, very comfortable. It is magnificent.” according to LA Times.
There are actually two Air Force Ones. This is to ensure that the president always has one available while the other is being repaired, refueled, or otherwise tied up. Put simply, if this plane is considered “old,” one can only imagine how much more luxurious the next-gen Air Force One will be. Here’s what is known as of 2021.
Countdown To ’24
Today’s plane is a Boeing 747. The next model will be a new one called the 747-8is. The plane is expected to be longer and wider than the previous model. This can only create an even more luxuriously spacious ride for those inside. The details will be customized at the will of the president. Presidents Obama, Trump, and now Biden will have all had some form of input in the creation of the aircraft.
One area of intrigue relates to the colors of the plane. The colors have not been finalized but President Trump was clear in wanted to move on from the baby blue finish and move to a louder red, white, and blue per DefenseNews. As of today, there have been no finalized decisions made public.
Other upgrades will include the addition of electrical power upgrades, “a mission communication system, medical facility, executive interior, a self-defense system, and self-sufficient ground operations…” according to an Air Force statement obtained through Pop Sci.
In total, the plane will carry a $5.3 billion price tag – enough to make many of the elite jealous. As a comparison, the last Air Force One cost $660 million back in the 1990s per the LA Times. The purchase will also entail a new hangar at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The owner’s manual alone is expected to cost $84 million and will be 100,000 pages. The manual is expected to be completed after the plane is fully operational and will be available in 2025.
Above all, the plane will do something that all items of luxury aspire to do. The plane will serve as a clear signal of strength, respect, prestige, and power of the United States abroad as well as the president at home.
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Source: Britannica, Boeing, LA Times, Pop Sci, DefenseNews
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