By David Axe
And you thought the U.S. Air Force's $40-billion tanker program got nasty.
After a couple years of speculation, yesterday the air branch officially announced its search for a new high-tech jumbo jet to haul around the President and his peeps. And like the bitter, now-canceled tanker contest, AF1 2.0 will pit a Boeing product (a new 747) against a plane from a European firm (the Airbus A380).
The three VC-25 jets currently in use for the Presidential role entered service beginning in 1990, with a planned 30-year service life. The three new Air Force One planes must enter service starting in 2017, according to the government solicitation.
The [Presidential Aircraft Replacement] aircraft will provide the President of the United States, staff, and guests with safe and reliable air transportation with the appropriate level of security and communications capability. Mission communications must provide secure, interoperable command, control, and communications, using net-centric architectures.
The new jet probably will not feature an escape pod, a rear ramp for parachutists or Harrison Ford, as featured in the awesomely bad 1997 action flick Air Force One.
When Boeing squared off against Euro company EADS over tankers, Congress critters favoring the American jet were quick to use the "Buy American" card, citing the tens of thousands of jobs at stake and the perceived need to keep tanker production lines within U.S. borders. You can bet your sweet bippy the Air Force One competition will be even more politically charged.Original here