Planes built for Russian airline may be next US Air Force One

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The list price of a Boeing 747-8 is almost $390 million.

That modification, done to specifications set by the Air Force, Secret Service and the White House Military Office, is where numerous costs related to the new Air Force One and its backup will come into play. The sources chose not to be identified as the deal has not yet been finalized or publicly announced.

The Air Force found a pair of Boeing 747 jetliners abandoned by a bankrupt Russian airline, which are now sitting in the Mojave Desert.

Before his inauguration, President Donald Trump raged about how the US Air Force's program to replace its two aging VC-25A aircraft-the heavily modified 747-200 aircraft known as Air Force One when in service-was too expensive.

The two likely-future-presidential-transport-aircraft are numbered N894BA and N895BA, according to Defense One.

Defense News also reported that Boeing now stores the two undelivered 747-8s at Southern California Logistics Airport near the Mojave Desert.

The Air Force said in a statement that they "expect to award a contract soon" for two commercial 747-8 aircraft.

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"We are working towards a deal for the 747-8s that will provide the best value for the Air Force", Hutcheson said. They were flight tested but never delivered and instead the planes sat in storage.

"Aeroflot absorbed most of Transaero's existing fleet, but declined to pick up Transaero's 747-8I orders worth $1.5 billion at list prices", FlightGlobal reported last month.

The huge Mojave Desert facility is hot and dry, so airplanes there do not suffer corrosion.

Air Force One has more than 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including a presidential suite, a medical suite that can serve as an operating room and galleys capable of feeding as many as 100 people at a time. The source says at this point the "US Air Force believes it may be cheaper to convert these existing planes than build new ones". Work to outfit the 747s with secure communications, defensive capabilities, and reinforced electronics to resist an electromagnetic pulse will follow as the Air Force takes bids from contractors to complete the modifications.

Nicknamed the "Queen of the Skies", the four-engined 747 has been a tough sell in recent years. Also, buyers including airlines often get discounts for commercial planes.

The two aircraft that now serve as the primary presidential transports are highly modified 747-200Bs that have been in service since 1990.

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