The White House has confirmed that Boeing won a firm, fixed-price contract from the U.S. Air Force to deliver two Air Force One presidential jets for $3.9 billion, more than a year and a half after a purported price tag of $4 billion became a sore point for then-President-Elect Donald Trump.
And Trump says these will be jets of a different color.
In today’s statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the contract was formally awarded on Tuesday. The statement also claimed that the deal represented a savings of more than $1.4 billion when compared with an initial proposal for a $5.3 billion cost-plus contract.
“President Donald J. Trump has emphasized the need to minimize the cost of replacing the two existing Air Force One aircraft,” the statement read. “Yesterday’s action meets that objective and reflects the president’s commitment to our military and to protecting taxpayer dollars.”
In reality, the price for the Air Force One replacement project has been squishy.
Back in December 2016, Trump complained in a tweet that “costs are out of control, more than $4 billion,” and threatened to cancel the project. That led Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg to give Trump his “personal commitment” that the cost would be kept below $4 billion. During their meeting, Muilenburg reportedly presented Trump with pricing options that went as low as $2.28 billion.
One cost-saver involved going with two Boeing 747-8 jets that had been reserved for a Russian airline, but had to be mothballed when the airline went bankrupt.
The two planes will replace Air Force One jets that are now 31 years old (compared with a typical design lifespan of 30 years for the 747 model.) After extensive refitting, the mission-ready jets are scheduled to be delivered by 2024.
In an interview, Trump told CBS News that the color scheme for the new Air Force One jets would be changed from the classic white and powder blue.
“It’s gonna be red, white and blue, which I think is appropriate,” Trump said.
“And you’ve seen the design?” CBS anchor Jeff Glor asked.
“I helped design it,” Trump replied.