Presidential air transport aircraft
Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF) - Fleet: 2x VC-25A Aircraft
Upgrades and sustainment
The VC-25 Air Force One VIP transport aircraft is an extensively modified Boeing 747-200B.
The mission of the VC-25 aircraft is to provide air transport for the President of the United States.
The presidential air transport fleet consists of two specially configured Boeing 747-200Bs with the Air Force designation VC-25
and tail numbers 28000 and 29000. When the President is onboard either aircraft, the radio call sign is 'Air Force One.'
The VC-25 is powered by four General Electric CF6-80C2B1 turbofan engines, each delivering 56,700 pounds of thrust. Because the aircraft, due to its configuration, carries only a light payload, it has a greater range than a normal B747-200 and is able to fly at higher speeds.
The VC-25 aircraft are flown by the Presidential Airlift Group and assigned to Air Mobility Command's 89th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. Air Force One often operates in conjunction with Marine One helicopters that transport the President to and from airports in situations when this option is prefered over a vehicle motorcade. The VC-25 has served as the main aerial transport platform for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Principal differences between the VC-25 and the standard Boeing 747-200B, other than the number of passengers and crew, are the cutting-edge navigation, electronic and communications equipment (incl. multi-frequency radios for air-to-air, air-to-ground and satellite communications), the interior configuration and furnishings, self-contained baggage loader, front and aft air-stairs, and the capability for in-flight refueling. The aircraft communications bay is located next to the cockpit on the second floor of the aircraft. For self-defense, the VC-25 is equipped with advanced electronic countermeasures and anti-missile flares.
Accommodations for the President include an executive suite, located at the very front of the aircraft beneath the cockpit, consisting of a stateroom with dressing room, lavatory and shower. The President also has a spacious personal office onboard. A conference/dining room is available for the President, his family and staff, while other separate accommodations are provided for guests, senior staff, Secret Service, Air Force security personnel, and news media.
The VC-25 has a compartment outfitted with medical equipment and supplies for minor medical emergencies. Also, six passenger lavatories, including disabled access facilities, are provided as well as a rest area and mini-galley for the aircrew. The aircraft's two galleys can provide up to 100 meals at a time.
The decision to procure the VC-25 was made during the Presidency of Ronald Reagan. The first VC-25A, tail number 28000, flew as Air Force One for the first time on September 6, 1990 and transported President George H.W. Bush. A second VC-25A, tail number 29000, transported Presidents Clinton, Carter and Bush to Israel to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. The VC-25 was used intesively on September 11, 2001. President George W. Bush spent much of the day in the air because Air Force One was considered the safest place to be at the time. Air Force One carried the President to and between a number of air bases before, later in the day, heading back to Washington, D.C.
The VC-25A is not the only Boeing 747 in U.S. military service. The Air Force is also operating four E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) aircraft based on the B747-200 platform.
According to the latest long-term U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) aviation funding plans, the Air Force expects to begin recapitalizing the VC-25 fleet and take delivery of the first replacement aircraft in 2019 with Initial Operational Capability (IOC) expected by 2023. On January 28, 2015, the Air Force announced that it will award the contract to build the next Air Force One to Boeing. The contract was not competed because Boeing's 747-8 is the only aircraft made in the U.S. that, when fully missionized, meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission.
Presidential air transport began in 1944 when the C-54 "Sacred Cow" entered service for President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This aircraft was followed by a DC-6 (Liftmaster) nicknamed "Independence," which transported President Harry S. Truman in the years from 1947 to 1953.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower traveled aboard the VC-121A "Columbine II" and VC-121E "Columbine III," both modified Lockheed Constellation aircraft.
While the call sign Air Force One was first used in the 1950s, President John F. Kennedy's VC-137C, a modified Boeing 707-320B, was the first aircraft to be popularly known as Air Force One. The VC-137C with tail number 26000 was purchased in 1962 specifically for use as Air Force One. This aircraft is widely regarded as the most historically significant presidential aircraft. Tail number 26000 is the aircraft that carried President Kennedy to Dallas on November 22, 1963, and returned his body to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland following his assassination. President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into office as the 36th President of the United States onboard the aircraft at Dallas Love Field. In 1972, President Richard M. Nixon made historic visits to the People's Republic of China and the former Soviet Union aboard tail number 26000. According to the Air Force, tail number 26000 was retired in May 1998. It is now on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. In all, seven presidents were served by the VC-137C.
Tail number 27000, another Boeing 707, replaced Tail 26000 and was used to fly Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter to Cairo, Egypt on October 19, 1981, to represent the United States at the funeral of President Anwar El Sadat.
The mission of the two VC-25 Air Force One aircraft is to provide air transport for the President of the United States.
This program funds modifications for the two VC-25 aircraft.
The design service life is 30 years, with an average of approximately 5 years remaining.
These on-going modifications are to extend that service life. Service bulletins and
low cost modifications are necessary for continuing Federal Aviation Administration certification
while improving flight safety, reliability, and maintainability.
Funds in the amount of $1.1 million have been provided for modifications and spare parts.
In addition, RDT&E funds in the amount of $11.0 million are provided for the development of the Presidential Aircraft Replacement (PAR) platform (based on the Boeing 747-8).
This program funds modifications for the two VC-25s to extend the aircrafts' service life.
Funds in the amount of $98.5 million have been allocated for modifications and spare parts.
In addition, RDT&E funds in the amount of $102.6 million are provided for the development
of the PAR platform (based on the Boeing 747-8).
For more information, click to view the FY 2016 USAF VC-25 Budget and the FY 2016 USAF Presidential Aircraft Replacement RDT&E Budget.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and The Boeing Company.
Last Update: September 20, 2015.
By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (email@example.com)
VC-25 U.S. Defense Budget Charts:
|Modification of VC-25 Aircraft (USAF)||Aircraft Spares (USAF)||RDT&E: Presidential Aircraft Replacement (USAF)|
Primary Function: Presidential air transport