Breaking: USAF starts search for Air Force One replacement

The US Air Force yesterday posted the following request for information on the Federal Business Opportunities web site.

Let the 747-8I versus A380 debate commence!


The United States Air Force is conducting market research toidentify potential sources that possess the expertise, capabilities,and experience to meet the requirements of the next generationPresidential fixed-wing aircraft. The current VC-25 Air Force One,based on the 747-200 airframe, was purchased in 1987 and delivered in1990 with a 30 year design life. As 747-200s have been retired fromairline service, parts and maintenance are becoming increasinglyexpensive. The Air Force conducted an Analysis of Alternatives toexamine if it would be more cost effective to maintain the current AirForce One, or to buy a new aircraft. Given the diminishing partssupplier base, increasing maintenance time, and system upgrades thatwould be necessary to meet future air traffic control requirements, itwas found that replacing the VC-25 was the most cost effective option.

The PAR aircraft will be a new-build, commercial derivative,wide-body aircraft, uniquely modified to meet the current and projectedrequirements for the worldwide transportation of the Office of thePresident. Modifications regarding passenger communications,information systems, interior work & rest environment, and aerialrefueling must be accomplished before delivery of the aircraft. Thedelivery of the first operationally capable aircraft is required inFY17, with delivery of the second and third aircraft in FY19 and FY21,respectively. The PAR aircraft must maintain the highest possiblemission capable rate.

The PAR aircraft will provide the President of the United States,staff, and guests with safe and reliable air transportation with theappropriate level of security and communications capability. Missioncommunications must provide secure, interoperable command, control, andcommunications, using net-centric architectures.

The interior must provide a work and rest environment suitable forthe President, guests, and traveling staff. The interior configurationmust provide the President with ample work and conference areas(including sleeping, lavatory, shower, and dressing areas). Theinterior must be accessible to the physically impaired. The interiormust be configured with galleys that provide the aircrew with thecapability to prepare, serve, and store food and beverages. It mustalso provide for housekeeping and waste disposal.

The modified aircraft will be Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)certified, and will meet projected aviation requirements to conductworldwide flight operations in all civil and military airspace asdefined by the FAA, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO),and Department of Defense (DOD).

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13 Responses to Breaking: USAF starts search for Air Force One replacement

  1. Trapperpk 9 January, 2009 at 12:02 am #

    One must consider contingencies for this type of operational aircraft and the A-380 can only land at a minimal number of airfields. Operational flexibility, long range performance and speed would be considerations and the ability to land most anywhere in the world.

  2. SMSgt Mac 9 January, 2009 at 5:25 am #

    I predict only one American offerer will respond, and if EADS responds it will do so alone. Hope I’m wrong.

  3. mupp 9 January, 2009 at 9:08 am #

    You also have to consider the prestige factor, would the US president look a little second class when he roll’s into an airport in his (her)747-8L, only for some Saudi prince ect to dwarf it with his A380?……I doubt that would look good on the news.

  4. Mike Plunkett 9 January, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Mupp: Worse than rolling into an airport in someone else’s aircraft? Just think of the message that an A380 Air Force One would send – Boeing aircraft are great, but we wouldn’t buy one for our head of state.

  5. Stephen Trimble 9 January, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    Mike is correct. That’s obviously a big concern. But there is another way to look at it. I don’t think many would argue that the EH101 is an inherently superior aircraft than the H-92. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The navy selected the EH101 because it determined it better met the requirements for the presidential helicopter. So it’s a relative judgment, rather than an objective one. The same standard of logic could be applied to the presidential aircraft fleet.

  6. Royce 9 January, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    Based on what I saw at Farnborough last year, the A380 has impressive maneuverability. It would be interesting to see if the 747 can do the same bag of tricks. I prefer the USAF to buy an American aircraft, but the difficulty will be that the 747-8 is more of an updated 747, not a clean sheet design like the A380. Boeing looked at the A380′s market segment and decided that it wasn’t worth building an aircraft that size (and they’re probably right), so they don’t have a real competitor to the A380 if the USAF decides they need a huge aircraft. Based on what we saw with the tanker contract, the modern USAF loves bigger aircraft.

  7. EG 9 January, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    B777 or ???

  8. Anonymous 9 January, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

    I’m all for competitive bids and getting the right aircraft for the mission but Air Force One is a symbol of the USA and I think it should be designed and manufactured by an American company; or at least the prime contractor should be an American company.

  9. Stephen Trimble 9 January, 2009 at 7:04 pm #

    The symbolism of Air Force One is definitely important. A very wise analyst once explained to me that the Air Force One is one of only a few symbols of American power. We don’t have royalty. We don’t have Versailles. When Air Force One arrives overseas, it’s job is to be seen as much as it is to transport the President.

    I can guarantee you that the prime contractor will be an American company, no matter where the aircraft is assembled.

  10. HerkEng 9 January, 2009 at 7:10 pm #

    It will be the 747-400 or the 747-8…

    The A380 like said above just can not get to enough airfields around the world.

    About the prestige thing… by the time the 747-200 that is currently in use was flying…there was already heads of state with the 747-400…but the VC-25 smoked them in technology. They would do the same today even with the 747-400. There is enough parts to keep these flying for a very long time.

    My bet is the 747-8.

  11. Stan Peterson 12 January, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    With all the people in this country out of work, why would we even think of giving this contract to a foreign company?? The heads of state in the United States should fly in U.S. equipment! The government is telling every one we need to by U.S. cars to keep the auto industry in business….what is the difference??

  12. Johnfaith Daniels Nnaemeka 22 September, 2009 at 6:49 pm #

    Yes,I think ,that is the best thing to be done by,putting-off the existing VC-25 Air Force One and be replaced with a higher and fortified technological Machine that will able to silently withstand the formidable treats of the Middle East.

    Though,from the documentary watch, Air Force One is still at the take but, the President and his Staff will be highly protected if the technology will be enhanced(by replacing the reprecate one).

    Thanks Johnfaith Daniel(Lagos,Nigeria)

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