The Pentagon’s 2021 budget request, released Monday, shows a planned replacement for Air Force One getting a patriotic redesign pushed by President Donald Trump.
An artist’s rendering divulged the paint scheme as part of the Defense Department’s $800.9 million request in the 2021 fiscal year budget for two modified 747-8s. The planes will take over for the current VC-25s – military versions of the 747-200 – which have been in service since 1990.
The new design will trade Air Force One’s familiar pale blue belly, darker blue upper nose and mostly white fuselage with a paint job that observers have likened to Trump’s private jet or the planes of his shuttered airline.
The new presidential planes will only go into service in 2024, the final year of a potential second Trump term. A final decision on their color and design will be made in 2021.
Still, some of Trump’s critics on Monday reacted to the illustration of his plans with outrage.
— Laura (@Xenabelly) February 11, 2020
“Of course President Trump wants to repaint Air Force One to look like his former airline. Of course he does,” tweeted Citizens for Ethics, a liberal-leaning government watchdog.
Of course President Trump wants to repaint Air Force One to look like his former airline. Of course he does.https://t.co/aboANgEijB
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 11, 2020
Journalist Garrett Graff said on Twitter that the paint scheme “remains a travesty.”
This paint scheme remains a travesty. Literally is there a single person other than Trump who thinks Air Force One should be repainted? It’s one of the most iconic brands in the world. https://t.co/hmwWQTPgSr
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) February 10, 2020
New Air Force One paint scheme revealed in Pentagon budget documents
Trump triggered similar backlash in June 2018, when he showed off mock-ups of the new Air Force One in an Oval Office interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos.
“There’s your new Air Force One,” Trump said.
— ABC News (@ABC) June 13, 2019
Months earlier, in February, the White House had signed a $3.9 billion contract with Boeing for the replacement planes.
The House Armed Services committee last year sought to require additional congressional approval for any changes the Pentagon, or Trump, would want to make to the planes, including paint schemes or interior design. But the committee failed to get the language into the National Defense Authorization Act.
Boeing’s 747 was introduced for commercial use in 1970 with the updated 747-200 version coming out a year later.
Air Force One is the call sign used by air traffic controllers to refer to the official presidential aircraft. Although Franklin Roosevelt was the first president to fly in a plane while in office, the official use of the term was not introduced until 1962.
The 747s are the most well-known representatives of Air Force One. President John F. Kennedy gave the planes their now-familiar design in the 1960s.
However, several smaller planes are also used to transport the president as needed, and they bear the same call sign when he is flying in them.