Air Force One delays, cost taxpayers more than planned

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Air Force One delays, cost taxpayers more than planned

Boeing has estimated that the new Air Force One jets it is building could arrive a year late and cost taxpayers more than planned, a top Pentagon official said.

The aerospace giant said Tuesday that it would hand over the two new presidential jets to the end of 2025, a year later than planned, during a testimony before a House committee.

Boeing struck a $3.9 billion deal to replace the aging 737 series, known as Air Force One when the commander-in-chief is on board, with then-President Donald Trump in 2018. Boeing will seek more than $500 million in additional government funding for the two modified 747 jumbo jets to deal with an increase in costs related to the Covid 19 pandemic and a supplier's bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the matter.

An Air Force spokesman said Boeing hasn't formally requested additional funding for their programs. Ms. Costello said Boeing told the Air Force that it intends to submit such a request. Boeing declined to comment on the situation in the U.S.

This is a little of a disappointment to all of us, said Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat who is chair of a Subcommittee on Armed Services in the House of Representatives.

The delay, which would be the first for the 2018 Air Force One replacement program since the departure of Boeing, comes as Boeing has faced setbacks in its other defense work in the past several years in commercial, space and other defense projects. In May, the aeroplane maker halted deliveries of its popular 787 Dreamliner so it could respond to questions from the U.S. air safety regulators.

Boeing officials are weighing Boeing's proposal about the Air Force One program and plan to update the delivery schedule for the heavily modified 747-7 jumbo jets later this year, Ms. Costello said. A delay in the new 747s could mean the current two modified versions of the president, which Boeing delivered when George H.W. arrived. Bush was president, stay in service longer than planned.

In the first quarter, Boeing booked a $318 million charge related to the jets, citing the impact of the pandemic and problems with a supplier, GDC Technics LLC. Boeing also took a $168 million charge last year.

GDC Technics was hired to equip the interiors of the planes, which were officially known as VC-25 Bs. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company is among a handful that specialize in the outfitting of executive interiors of VIPs and heads of state for corporate aircraft. Boeing sued the supplier in April, claiming that it missed deadlines on the project. The supplier, which filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, countered in court documents that the delays were Boeing's fault.

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