Air Force One in its current model — a modified Boeing 747-200 — has carried presidents since 1990. Now. the Defense Department is surveying contractors about their ability to provide a new model. (Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Images)
The Defense Department is beginning the process to replace Air Force One.
The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on Sept. 9 released a Sources Sought Synopsis, a survey asking potential contractors about their ability to create a suitable replacement to the VC-25, the modified Boeing 747-200 that has carried presidents since 1990.
The current VC-25s in service will reach their planned 30-year service life in 2017, and the service is looking for a commercial derivative aircraft to be delivered no earlier than 2021, according to the synopsis posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
“Due to (the age of the fleet), it is becoming increasingly more expensive to maintain these aircraft,” the synopsis states. “Increased heavy maintenance and parts obsolescence costs require the Air Force to begin planning for the VC-25A fleet replacement. Analysis has shown that it is cost beneficial to replace the VC-25A aircraft and operate a new and more efficient aircraft.”
The new aircraft must be able to meet the requirements for the president to execute his duties as commander of the armed forces, head of state and chief executive while airborne, according to the Air Force synopsis.
Necessary modifications to a commercial plane include enhanced electrical power generation, self-sufficient baggage loading and passenger boarding, secure and nonsecure passenger communications, information systems, and an interior work and rest environment. The aircraft must be capable of intercontinental flight from Joint Base Andrews, Md., and be able to operate from regional airfields.
The deadline for responses is Oct. 9.