Air Force One: A flying White House

Top: Air Force One in Berlin last month. Above: US President Barack Obama with aides aboard Air Force One on their way to Singapore in November 2009.
US President Barack Obama with aides aboard Air Force One on their way to Singapore in November 2009.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, GETTY IMAGES
Top: Air Force One in Berlin last month. Above: US President Barack Obama with aides aboard Air Force One on their way to Singapore in November 2009.
Air Force One in Berlin last month. PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON • The president of the United States has two specially equipped Boeing 747-200s jets that are each known as Air Force One when the president is on board.

Both aircraft went into service in 1990 and have a 30-year lifespan. Earlier this year, Boeing received a US$170 million (S$241 million) contract to design a replacement for the ageing pair of Air Force Ones, according to The Washington Post. The US Defence Department's five-year plan indicates a cost of US$2.9 billion over the next five years for design and development.

President-elect Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the price could be more than US$4 billion when finished, which he regarded as too much.

Mr Trump owns a Boeing 757-200 private jet, which he calls Trump Force One. He bought it in 2010 from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

So what's so special about Air Force One?

 

  • $241m

    Contract received by Boeing earlier this year to design a replacement for the ageing pair of Air Force Ones.

  • $4.1b

    Cost of the US Defence Department's five-year plan over the next five years for design and development.

•It can refuel mid-air, meaning it has unlimited range and does not need refuelling stops, according to the White House.

•Onboard electronics have been hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, for example from a nuclear blast.

•Both planes are equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command centre in the event of an attack on the US. The president can run the country and a war from the air, like a mobile White House.

•Inside the plane, there is 373 sq m of floor space on three levels, including an extensive suite for the president that features a large office, a toilet and a conference room, the White House says.

•Air Force One also has a medical suite that can function as an operating theatre, and a doctor is permanently on board. The plane's two food galleys can feed 100 people at a time.

•The plane's defence capabilities are secret, but it is reported to be capable of repelling missiles and to have a special electronic defence system that can jam enemy radars.

By contrast, Mr Trump's plane, which seats 43 people, has gold- plated fittings, a movie theatre, a bedroom and a conference room.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'Air Force One: A flying White House'. Print Edition | Subscribe