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PJ Media December 6, 2016

Trump to Boeing: 'Cancel Order' on Air Force One

By Tyler O'Neil

President-elect Donald Trump caused a stir Tuesday morning, attacking the airline company Boeing for out-of-control costs and issuing a "cancel order" on the renovation for Air Force One.

"Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion," Trump tweeted. In his typical fashion, he punctuated the tweet with a final declaration — "Cancel order!"

"The plane is totally out of control," Trump told reporters Tuesday afternoon inside Trump Tower. "It's going to be over $4 billion for Air Force One program and I think it's ridiculous. I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money."

While Trump's desire to save money is admirable, his numbers and his assessment that the project is "out of control" are quite questionable. Shortly after this tweet, Boeing released a statement on the project. "We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States," the statement read.

"We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer," the statement concluded.

"We don't know where the $4 billion number came from," Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher told PJ Media in an email statement. "The Air Force estimate released today is around $3 billion." When asked if there has been any recent increase in estimates or spending to justify Trump's claim that costs are "out of control," Blecher said, "Not that we are aware of."

The $3 billion refers to an Air Force budgetary document which projects that research, development, testing, and evaluation of the new pair of Air Force Ones (they are always manufactured in pairs) will cost $2.87 billion between fiscal years 2015 and 2021. The project will not be over in 2021, however, and PolitiFact reported that it would require another $1 billion after 2021 to finish the job. Specifically, the Teal Group estimated the project will require $858 million more between fiscal years 2022 and 2026.

The grand total? $3.73 billion over 12 years. Although that isn't "more than $4 billion," it is reasonably close — and an Air Force spokesman said the $2.7 billion estimate would likely "change as the program matures." Furthermore, this estimate does not include operations and maintenance costs, including aviation fuel, upkeep, and pilot salaries.

"Canada was in line to buy the F-35, but then realized that they would [sic] actually had to operate the things, and they had sticker shock," explained John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org. "Malaysia bought a bunch of Mig-29s without a service contract, to save money, and they soon turned into hangar queens."

So while Trump's general estimate of above $4 billion might be accurate, his description of this cost as "out of control" is not exactly fair.


Copyright 2016, PJ Media