It’s now being widely discussed that President Trump’s grasp of what’s required for these aircraft is well out of step with the actual need for now, and as importantly the next 30 years.
The desire to ‘get a deal’ and cut the costs has already led to the purchase of two ex-Transaero white tails sat about at Boeing, rather than a purpose built airframe as the Air Force would have preferred.
Now the limitations of these standard build passenger aircraft will mean that a key ability will be lost – inflight refuelling. Add to that a host of other customised defences designed to protect all Presidents and their key descison makers in the event of a major – especially nuclear crisis, may not be included without major re-engineering work. Work that undermines the very cost saving of buying these aircraft.
It’s already being leaked that to keep costs down the air conditioning system will remain as is, seating will be off the shelf, and even the basic EMP hardening will be below the current aircraft because of the frames inability to be modified without huge cost.
On the outside it will look as it should, it can easily have the communication systems it needs, as long as heat dissipation can be managed
Appearance isn’t everything however. These aircraft, their survivability and a capability to survive are a vital, crucial part of the US Nuclear deterrent. The Commander in Chief’s survival, continuity of government, in any crisis, is utterly essential.
Refuelling, nuclear blast (heat and radiation), EMP resistance, never mind radiological, biological or chemical attack resistance are key elements, when one man on board is responsible for unleashing thousands of nuclear and conventional weapons against an enemy.
It should not be a successor in the chain of command, but the elected official – The President who must survive to manage and decide. For the sake of a few bucks when so much else is wasted it seems like a terrible false economy.
Cheap skating your way to a pretty but capability free flying command centre that cannot survive – or, by your enemies be believed to survive – a major attack, or other crisis, undermines the United States ability to defend itself in the last resort. Not just for Trump if it’s ever ready while he’s in office, but for potentially as many as 4 to 7 following Presidents.