Sitting in the dry and hot Mojave Desert are two jets that may help Donald Trump in his quest to show the nation that he’s really good at making deals.
The two jets that may become the next iconic Air Force One fleet have been sitting in the desert since earlier this year, after a deal between the jet’s manufacturer Boeing and a Russian airline fell through. The dry air in Mojave makes the area ideal for storing planes, as the air won’t be corrosive. The area, in general, is a storage place for older planes and planes that may one day be flown again.
The planes were originally ordered by Russian airline Transaero in 2013. The company was the largest Russian airline until two years later, when it went bankrupt. Unfortunately for Boeing — but apparently fortunately for US taxpayers and Mr Trump — two of the four ordered jets had been made when those bankruptcy papers were sent through.
Mr Trump, soon after winning the 2016 election, proclaimed that he thought the cost of a new Air Force One fleet was simply too much for the taxpayer to bear. He pledged to negotiate a better deal, and to drive costs down. Should the US Air Force negotiate a bargain on the abandoned aircraft sitting int he Mojave, his administration may have done just as he pledged.
Still, the deal isn’t finished yet. The Air Force is expected to announce the purchase of the two 747-8 jets as soon as this week, but a spokeswoman didn’t confirm the details.
“We’re working through the final stages of coordination to purchase two commercial 747-8 aircraft and expect to award a contract soon,” Spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Defense One, the news outlet that first noted the potential sale.
Boeing also didn’t confirm the specifics of the sale, but said that the negotiations were centered on delivering a “great value” for the Air Force and American people.
But the planes are going to cost quite a bit more than your average Boeing 747-8 — which has a sticker price of $386.8 million — since the US military will need to outfit it with specific protections and capabilities for the President’s use and protection.
Pentagon budget requests have laid out $3.2 billion to pay for those modifications. Those changes include adding private conference rooms in the cabin, private living quarters for the President, an operating room for emergency procedures in-flight, flares in the wings for deterring missiles, a probe for mid-air refueling, and reinforcement so that the fuselage can…