WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Pentagon has chosen Boeing’s 747-8 to replace the two aging planes that serve as the President’s Air Force One fleet.
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement that the plane, one of Boeing’s largest, is the only aircraft “manufactured in the United States [that] when fully missionized meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission, while reflecting the office of the President of the United States of America consistent with the national public interest.”
It will undertake the modifications necessary to make the plane ready for presidential flights, including the addition of sophisticated communication equipment and living quarters for the President and his staff.
The plane itself is a rarity — declining demand for the 747-8 has slowed its production to just 1.5 planes per month, according to Bloomberg.
The two Boeing 747-200 planes that the President currently uses will reach the end of their 30-year service life in 2017, and according to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Air Force has set aside $1.65 billion between 2015 and 2019 for two replacement jets.
James said that “parts obsolescence, diminishing manufacturing sources and increased down times for maintenance” are all persistent issues that contribute to the need for a new fleet.