US President Donald Trump has announced a plan to change the blue and white colour scheme of the iconic Air Force One and give it a bold new paint job in red, white and blue colours as part of a series of upgrades to the presidential aircraft.
Boeing is building the next generation of the 747 used to fly Presidents around the world and Trump is using the opportunity to paint the plane in the colours of the American flag. Former President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy selected the current colour scheme in the 1960s.
In an interview with CBS News, Trump said that the upgraded Air Force One is “going to be incredible… It’s going to be the top of the line, the top in the world, and it’s going to be red, white and blue, which I think is appropriate.”
Trump made the comments in an interview that was taped in Scotland last weekend and aired on Tuesday. The Defence Department earlier announced that Boeing had secured a $3.9 billion contract to build two new Air Force One planes.
“Boeing gave us a good deal. And we were able to take that. But I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colours? And we’re not’.”
He said that the new plane “will be largely for future Presidents” due to the time it will take to build. “I hate to say this, it’s gonna be a long time. It’s a very complex project. But by the time it gets built, you’re gonna have many Presidents, hopefully, use it and enjoy it.”
The White House previously claimed that Trump’s tough talk with Boeing on the cost of the planes had saved taxpayers more than $1.4 billion. In the CBS interview, Trump expanded on that claim, saying that he “was able to save $1.5 billion”.
But in 2016, Trump claimed that the initial price tag for the new planes was roughly $4 billion, a figure that he decried as “ridiculous” at the time. The Air Force had also begun working to bring down the cost years before Trump set his sights on Boeing.
The current Air Force One, a modified Boeing 747, made its debut in 1990. Trump said that after nearly three decades, the plane was long overdue for an upgrade.
The new version is scheduled to be completed by 2024, although Trump has asked for that date to be pushed up to 2021 so that he might have a chance to use it.