Donald Trump’s red, white and blue paint scheme for the new Air Force One fleet has been nixed by the Biden administration, after engineers calculated that extra heat from the dark blue underside could cause problems.
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Defense News that “analysis concluded darker colors, among other factors, on the underside of the VC-25B aircraft might contribute to temperatures exceeding the current qualification limits of a small number of components on the aircraft.”
An administration official said compensating for the extra heat would drive more engineering work and expense for a project that’s already running far behind schedule. Originally slated for a December 2024 delivery, the two new jets may not debut until 17 months later, in May 2026.
That’s bad news for Biden, who this week once again made the case for an Air Force One escalator:
(June 8th 2022) Biden almost trips (again) on Air Force One pic.twitter.com/Mx1vFWUgOP
— crabcrawler (@crabcrawler1) June 10, 2022
The good news for taxpayers is that, unlike so many Pentagon deals where contractors simply throw cost overruns onto the invoice, Trump negotiated a fixed-price contract for the redesigned Boeing VC-25B jets—the military version of a 747-800.
That means Boeing is responsible for any cost overruns—and there’s plenty of those already. On an April investor conference call, CEO Dave Calhoun spoke ruefully of the deal Boeing cut with Trump, a deal on which it’s already lost $1.1 billion:
“Air Force One, I’m just gonna call a very unique moment, a very unique negotiation, a very unique set of risks that Boeing probably shouldn’t have taken, but we are where we are and we’re going to deliver great airplanes. And we’re gonna recognize the cost associated with it.”
Trump’s proposed color scheme looked much like the one on his own corporate jet. The new presidential jets are likely to retain the current colors, which have been used since they were picked by Jackie Kennedy. Trump isn’t a fan: “The baby blue doesn’t fit with us,” he told Fox News in 2019. “I think it’s going to look much better, actually.”
To be accurate, “Air Force One” isn’t the name of a specific jet. Rather, it’s the call sign for whatever aircraft is carrying the president. Put Joe Biden on a C-130 and, presto, that’s Air Force One. Throw Kamala Harris onto an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter (not out of, you psychos) and, boom, it becomes Army Two.
Here’s an entirely plausible and deeply moving Hollywood illustration of the concept: