09:28 GMT04 April 2020
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    The cost of new Air Force One aircraft to fly US presidents could be reduced only by cutting back on crucial security and communication features, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Tuesday.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, President-elect Donald Trump said he wanted to cancel the government’s order with manufacturer Boeing for a new Air Force One because the cost of the plane and its research-and-development program, which he said amount to $4 billion, is "ridiculous."

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Trump's remarks about excessive cost are not grounded in knowledge of the contract’s details.

    "Some of the statistics that have been cited [by Trump], shall we say, don't appear to reflect the nature of the financial agreement between Boeing and the Department of Defense," Earnest stated on Tuesday.

    According to James, the price could be lowered "if you have lesser communications requirements, if you have lesser countermeasures, if you have lesser any of these factors."

    In an interview with Politico, she stressed that security features and communications standards are developed by experts at the White House, not by the Air Force.

    "Air Force One, although it is a 747 platform, is way, way more than what you would think of as a commercial airliner," James concluded. "It really is, in many ways, a flying White House, in terms of the security."

    The Air Force, which oversees the contract for the presidential aircraft, also issued a statement saying it is still conducting risk-reduction activities with Boeing that will eventually define the capabilities and cost of Air Force One.

    "We have budgeted $2.7B in the Fiscal Year 2017 Future Years Defense Program…but expect this number to change as the program matures," the statement added.

    Two planes will be needed to replace the current pair of Boeing 747-200s that in 2017 will reach the end of their 30-year service.


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    Air Force One, cost-cutting, Donald Trump, United States
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