Donald Trump wants to cancel the contract with Boeing for a new Air Force One because of cost concerns. Trump is right to be concerned about the cost overruns, but wrong to cancel the project.
There is some ancillary criticism out there that Trump’s tweet caused Boeing’s stock to go down, but if word leaked about Trump’s concerns, which would have happened, the stock would have gone down too. That seems to be a small concern.
It is great to have Trump concerned about these costs. Boeing and Lockheed both have problems with costs and I hope Trump will actually cancel the F-35, which is loved by lobbyists and those paid to love it and hated by anyone and everyone who actually cares about the future of American air superiority.
But the President actually does need a new Air Force One.
You may not realize this, but contrary to popular opinion and movies, in 2001, Air Force One did not have the technical sophistication for President Bush to maintain stable lines of communication after the 9/11 disaster. He could put in a secure call to Putin, but he could not maintain secure lines with the White House or others domestically. All of that technology had to be shoehorned in to Air Force One later.
Likewise, the airframe of the existing Air Force One is old and repairs are going to become increasingly more expensive. As technology advances, it is going to be increasingly hard to add those new and necessary technologies to the present Air Force One.
The newer Air Force One plan, based on the 747-800, will provide a superior aircraft with more upgrade flexibility for future Presidents and better communications systems.
Costs need to be contained and good for Trump if his tweet forces those cost containments. But the President, whoever he may be, needs a new Air Force One.