Politics

Was Trump Right About Air Force One's $4 Billion Cost?

| by Nik Bonopartis

Critics were quick to pounce on President-elect Donald Trump for his claims that the Air Force One program would cost taxpayers more than $4 billion, but it turns out Trump was right.

Federal budget and procurement documents already place the cost of the Air Force One program -- which will result in two planes in service of the president -- at about $4.265 billion, according to the Daily Mail.

Media organizations like The Washington Post and Politifact claimed to fact-check the president-elect on the cost estimates, while ultimately admitting Trump's estimate of the overall cost of the program -- which includes research and development, design and manufacturing of the jets -- is accurate.

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler alleged on Dec. 6 there were a "number of inaccuracies" in Trump's claim, but came to the same conclusion about the overall cost of the program.

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Trump's estimate "is not completely out of line," Kessler wrote. "But the budget is subject to approval by Congress and the actual design of the aircraft. Boeing literally needs to re-engineer the plane from the ground up, so there are many one-time expenses."

Kessler's story noted that jets designated as Air Force One typically have a life cycle of three decades, and come with proprietary extras designed for the safety of the commander-in-chief. The existing planes used by President Barack Obama were introduced in 1990 and are approaching the end of their useful life cycle.

Kessler quotes a Pentagon assessment that states the costs to maintain the current jets are rising, and maintenance teams will contend with "parts obsolescence" as Boeing, the manufacturer, moves on to newer jets.

But none of that changes the overall cost estimate, nor does it guarantee there won't be additional cost overruns.

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"Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion," Trump wrote in the original Dec. 6 tweet that caused controversy. "Cancel order!"

Trump's public rebuke of the $4 billion price tag led to a conversation between the president-elect and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, with Mullenburg promising to limit costs.

"I spoke to a very good man [on Dec. 6], the head of Boeing, terrific guy, and we're going to work it out," Trump said, according to CNN. "But you know, that's what I'm here for. I'm going to negotiate prices. Planes are too expensive. We're going to get the prices down. If we don't get the prices down, we're not going to order them, we'll stay with what we have."

Sources: Daily Mail, The Washington Post, Donald Trump/Twitter, CNN / Photo credit: U.S. Gov/Wikimedia Commons

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