A Boeing 747-8 during a test flight. Photo: Boeing Dreamscape.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Boeing is to conduct risk-reduction activities for an Air Force program to field a new aircraft for the President of the United States.
The contract awarded by the Air Force to Boeing is the first for the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program. Contract modifications will be made to it 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," a report by Air Force News Service said.
"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."
Activities to be undertaken by Boeing include the definition of detailed requirements and design trade-offs to support decisions that will lead to a lower risk Engineering and Manufacturing Development program and lower life-cycle costs.
The Air Force said it wants to own enough of the technical baseline to permit competition for modifications and sustainment throughout the aircraft's planned 30-year life cycle and thus hold down costs, 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."
Boeing's VC-21A are currently used as presidential aircraft. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James was quoted as saying they need to be replaced.
"Parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance are existing challenges that will increase until a new aircraft is fielded."
No information was given as to the monetary value of the award to Boeing.