WASHINGTON: United States President-elect Donald Trump called Tuesday for the cancellation of a multi-billion dollar Boeing contract to build the next Air Force One, calling the ballooning costs "ridiculous."
"Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!" Trump tweeted. Converting a pair of 747-8 jumbo jets to state-of-the-art luxury command centres by 2024 had been estimated to cost $3 billion when Boeing was picked for the job in January 2015.
The legendary light blue and white liveried jets -- "The United States of America" emblazoned on the fuselage and an American flag on the tail -- are a powerful symbol of US might. But the current double-decker 747-200s, first ordered by Ronald Reagan and put into service in 1990, are getting old.
Earlier this year, the Air Force issued the first of a series of contracts for the project to build new ones. Ironically, it was a $25.7 million effort to look at ways to cut the costs of fielding the next presidential aircraft.
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Instead, cost projections have apparently ballooned, prompting Trump's outburst. "I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money," the president-elect told reporters at Trump Tower, his Manhattan headquarters. He said the estimated $4 billion cost was "totally out of control" and "ridiculous." Boeing had no immediate comment.
Prestige items like Air Force One have been targeted before because of spiralling costs. In 2009, President Barack Obama halted a project to replace the Marine One helicopters that ferry the president. Costs had soared to nearly $11.5 billion after the 28 helicopters were ordered in 2005.
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