Air Force One soon will be replaced.
The U.S. Air Force will replace the president's current fleet of two aircraft with Boeing's 747-8 plane, citing the need for an upgrade.
"The presidential aircraft is one of the most visible symbols of the United States of America and the Office of the President of the United States," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement on Wednesday. The contract will not be competitive, she added, because the Boeing's 747-8 is the only plane made domestically that can meet the requirements for the presidential aircraft while simultaneously satisfying the national public interest.
The blue-and-white aircraft currently used by President Barack Obama is an older Boeing model of the 747 that dates back more than two decades to the presidency of George H. W. Bush. The corporation's 747s are built in Everett, Washington.
The Air Force cited obsolete parts, diminishing manufacturing sources, and increased maintenance times as challenges with the existing aircraft. Analyses found that a four-engine, wide-body plane is needed to carry out the mission of Air Force One.
The government's aerial branch chose the Boeing jet over an airliner manufactured by Airbus in France.
"Air Force One" describes any Air Force plane carrying the president, according to the White House. The commander-in-chief must be ready to travel anywhere in the world on a moment's notice.
"Air Force One" is also a call sign, which was created after an incident in 1953 when former President Dwight Eisenhower's airliner entered the same airspace as a commercial flight using the same name. Several different aircraft types have been used as the president's official plane since the creation of the fleet.
The plane has marked historic moments, including the on-board inauguration of Lyndon Johnson in 1963 hours after the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy. The iconic aircraft has been featured in American culture, including movies, songs, and even apparel, such as Nike's Air Force 1 sneakers. The words "United States of America," the country's flag, and the Seal of the President of the United States brand the plane.
Inside, the commander-in-chief and advisers can roam around in 4,000 square feet on three levels that include a suite, large office, conference area, and medical space that functions as an operating room.
Upon the recent decision, the Air Force needs to finalize negotiations and a contract that will define the capabilities and cost of the plane. Obama won't have the chance to fly the new fleet because it won't be ready until at least 2018. It is expected to last for 30 years.