The US Air Force announced that the conversion of the first of two Boeing 747-8 aircraft into VC-25B has started on Feb. 25, 2020.
The US Air Force (USAF) announced that the conversion of the first of two Boeing 747-8 aircraft into VC-25B has started on Feb. 25, 2020.
VC-25B, the next “Air Force One,” is a program to design, modify, test, and deliver two aircraft replacing the current VC-25A and will serve as a flying White House for the next thirty years.
Known everywhere by the call sign “Air Force One” when the President is on board, the VC-25B will ensure safe, secure, worldwide transport of the President. While airborne the President can execute the duties of Commander in Chief, Head of State, and Chief Executive. The program is managed by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Presidential & Executive Airlift Directorate.
The first step of the modification is to include an internal airstairs into the aircraft. This requires strengthening the forward and aft lower lobes of the aircraft.
As explained by Daryl Mayer, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) Public Affairs explains in the article VC-25B begins modification to create the next “Air Force One”, following ferry flights in spring 2019 to the Boeing modification facility, Boeing prepared the two aircraft for modification start by removing the commercial interiors, engines, auxiliary power units, and numerous secondary system components. Additionally, Boeing placed a sophisticated jacking and crib mechanism under each aircraft to reduce structural stress for the initial modification phases.
“Air Force One is a symbol of our nation that is instantly recognizable worldwide,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan Britton, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Presidential & Executive Airlift. “This is an exciting time as we take the initial steps to create these unique aircraft that the team and I brag are the most important aircraft in the world.”
The VC-25B modifications to the 747-8 aircraft will include electrical power upgrades, a mission communication system, a medical facility, executive interior, and autonomous ground operations capabilities. The work is being performed at a Boeing facility in San Antonio, Texas.
As pointed out by Air Force Magazine, while the modification process does not detail the new livery of the aircraft, Pentagon budget documents and models seen at the White House show the aircraft painted red, white, and blue instead of the signature light blue and white that has been on Air Force One for decades.
The new aircraft are expected to begin operations in 2024.
Photo credit: Boeing