On Sep. 12 the Air Force officially requested a proposal from Boeing to complete detailed design, modification, test and fielding of two aircraft that will provide presidential worldwide airlift support starting in the 2024 timeframe. A third production representative aircraft is still under consideration for future procurement.
The request acts upon the authorization received from Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, continuing a deliberate step-by-step approach to reduce program and cost risk. By releasing the RFP now, Boeing will be able to apply the results of the ongoing risk reduction activities to the proposal for the contract modification, which will be the preponderance of the acquisition program.
“This is a significant step forward for this program, which emphasizes cost control and risk reduction, in balance with system performance, to meet the requirements of the presidential mission,” said Col. Amy McCain, the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization program manager. “We are committed to providing the (Executive) Office of the President of the United States with safe, reliable air transportation that provides high levels of security and communication capability.”
To help ensure an affordable program, Boeing will modify the Federal Aviation Administration-certified commercial Boeing 747-8 aircraft to meet presidential operational requirements. The modifications to the 747-8 will include electrical power upgrades, a mission communication system, a medical facility, executive interior, a self-defense system, and autonomous ground operations capabilities.
“The results of our ongoing risk reduction efforts are providing data that we can use to make decisions regarding requirements and design trade-offs. These decisions will then be applied to Boeing’s EMD proposal,” McCain said. “We are focused on driving out costs where we can, to ensure this program is affordable.”
The PAR program will replace the VC-25A in the 2024 timeframe through a highly tailored acquisition program. Parts obsolescence and diminishing sources for VC-25A replacement parts are driving increased costs and increasing out of service times for heavy maintenance to maintain FAA airworthiness standards. That time has already grown to well over a year per heavy maintenance cycle, significantly limiting availability for presidential support. The acquisition strategy to replace Air Force One was approved by USD(AT&L) on Sept. 4, 2015.