A ‘fake’ Air Force One


Sometimes things are not what they seem……the aircraft in the photograph looks like one of the two Presidential Boeing VC-25A aircraft, the heavily modified Boeing 747-200B which serves as the VVIP transport for the President of the United States of America and his extensive staff, and can span the globe. When the President is being carried, either of the VC-25s has the call-sign ‘Air Force One’.

There are a whole range of highly classified self-defence and communications systems fitted to the basic airframe (many located on the upper deck, aft of the flight deck) to make it fit for its role, some of which would only be needed if a national emergency should arise whilst the President was in the air. Following the 9/11 attacks, both of the aircraft were modified to enable the the President to address the nation on TV in flight during an emergency from his private office in the VC-25. Despite the copious nature of the storage space in the VC-25’s hold, there is simply not enough to accommodate the needs of the Presidential party. Consequently, there is a dedicated fleet of heavy military transport aircraft which travel in advance to the assigned destination, which can carry security personnel, armoured limousines, and USMC helicopters (‘Marine One’) if required.

Both VC-25 aircraft were delivered in 1991, during the Presidency of George H. W. Bush, and finished in a distinctive colour scheme of blue and white. They were assigned to the Presidential Airlift Group of the 89th Airlift Wing, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, who organise Presidential air transport, as well as that of other high officials. The problem that the United States Air Force has is that both aircraft are now approaching the end of their useful lives. Consequently, the US Government asked for proposals from both Airbus and Boeing for a replacement aircraft. EADS North America decided that it would not be worth their while assembling just two Airbus A380 aircraft in a US facility, so that left Boeing as the only bidder. There was a contentious bidding process, during which the US Government disagreed with the price of two new-built VC-25B (based on the standard 747-8 airframe). Finally, it was decided that the two VC-25B would be based on two unsold 747-8 aircraft, originally ordered by the now-bankrupt Russian carrier Transaero, and which were stored in the Mojave Desert. Amongst the many modifications there will be a military-grade GPS and an IFF system. What is the aircraft shown in the photograph, then? It is actually a Boeing 747-212B, formerly of Evergreen International, and retired to Quonset State Airport, Rhode Island (KOQU). The new owner has decided to paint the aircraft as ‘Air Force One’, and hopes to use the static aircraft for educational purposes.

In its eye-catching paint scheme, this pseudo ‘Air Force One’ is certainly an interesting exhibit!

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One comment on “A ‘fake’ Air Force One”

  1. Brilliant find Ross!

    Like


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