(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump is showing off the red-white-and-blue paint job he’s demanded for new Air Force One jets, underscoring his determination to put his stamp on the presidential planes long known internationally for their sky blue-and-white exterior.
“There’s your new Air Force One, and I’m doing this for other presidents, not for me,” Trump said as he held up a design in an interview with ABC News. He also boasted he got “$1.6 billion” off the price of the project. The Air Force has said negotiations that Trump led with Boeing Co. produced “over $1.4 billion in savings.”
The Air Force manages the $5.3 billion program for Boeing Co. to build two new presidential planes. But Trump, who considers himself an expert on branding, is meeting resistance in Congress. An amendment to the annual defense policy bill approved by the House Armed Services Committee (H.R. 2500) would bar changes to plans for the new planes including changes to the plans for exterior paint and interior design.
See Trump displaying red-white-and-blue plane design in ABC News video
Trump’s seemingly off-hand proposal a year ago on how to paint the new planes was among the quirkier examples of the president’s willingness to intervene in Defense Department projects -- from personally pushing for reductions in the cost of the Air Force One replacements and the F-35 fighter to demanding that the Navy use old-fashioned steam-based catapults on its new aircraft carriers instead of a more advanced but occasionally unreliable electromagnetic system.
A final decision on the paint scheme for planes isn’t due until 2021 so it’s possible the color switch might be abandoned if Trump loses his re-election bid next year. If Trump wins, it’s a close call on whether he’ll get to fly on one of the new planes: The Air Force now estimates the first jet will be ready by September 2024, four months before Trump would leave office, but such projects rarely remain on schedule.
--With assistance from Roxana Tiron and Travis Tritten (Bloomberg Government.)
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