The Air Force anticipates requesting an additional $200 million through fiscal year 2020 for the new Air Force One program, formally known as the Presidential Aircraft Replacement (PAR) program.

The Air Force wants $351 million in FY ’17 for PAR, down nearly 27 percent from what it expected last year, as part of a total anticipated request of nearly $2.3 billion through FY ’20. This does not include the $82 million enacted for PAR in FY ’16, according to budget documents.

Air Force One is currently a Boeing 747-200B. Photo: White House.
Air Force One is currently a Boeing 747-200B. Photo: White House.

In contrast, the Air Force’s FY ’16 budget request had the service forecasting nearly $2.1 billion for PAR through FY ’20. The Air Force, in budget documents, said the $20 million cut for FY ’16 was a congressionally-directed reduction to defer a commercial aircraft buy to FY ’17. The Air Force said the 27 percent drop for FY ’17 was to account for the acquisition strategy approved by Frank Kendall, under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics (AT&L). This strategy was approved in September. The other $3.5 million reduction was due to deflation.

Boeing [BA] is the prime contractor for PAR. The Air Force on Jan. 29 awarded the company a $26 million cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for Phase 1 pre-milestone B activities, according to a Defense Department statement. Boeing will conduct activities aimed at improving affordability and reducing program execution risk. These activities will include the definition of detailed requirements and design trade-offs required to support informed decisions, DoD said.

The Air Force’s budget request supports these pre-milestone B activities as well as design, modification, install and test of two aircraft to make them presidential mission ready. Following a successful milestone B decision in the fourth quarter of FY ’16, the program will purchase two Boeing 787-8 commercial aircraft before design work begins. Given the commercial aircraft delivery timeline, the Air Force must award a contract to Boeing before design work.

In addition to the pre-milestone B work, funds in the FY ’17 budget request would begin preliminary design activities and support program management administration. The program office will also begin incrementally funding the two aircraft to support PAR development activities. In FY ’18, the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) activities will include the management, detailed design, integration, modification, test/verification, certification and pre-operational support to deliver two PAR aircraft to be presidential-mission ready.

While Boeing will be the sole source for PAR development activities, the Air Force intends to compete systems for the modified aircraft as much as practicable and will participate substantively in Boeing-led subsystem competitions. The PAR program will have a single contract with multiple planned major contract modifications, which include 747-8 commercial aircraft, preliminary design and EMD.

The Air Force expects an EMD award in third quarter FY ’18. This is one year later than the Air Force anticipated in January 2015 (Defense Daily: Jan. 28, 2015).

PAR will replace the presidential VC-25A fleet, which faces capability gaps, rising maintenance costs and parts obsolescence as it reaches the end of its planned 30-year lifecycle. The modifications to the 747-8 aircraft will include an electrical power upgrade with dual auxiliary power units that are usable in flight, a mission communication system, work and rest environment, executive interior, military avionics and a self-defense system, among others. The Air Force said no significant changes to the existing VC-25A concept of operations or concept of employment are expected.

The Air Force said it would be unable to respond to a request for comment by press time Tuesday. Boeing did not respond to a request for comment.