Trump Said to Meet Boeing CEO a Second Time Over Air Force One
- January 31, 2017
- Posted by: MIB
- Category: US
By Tony Capaccio
(Bloomberg) — Boeing Co. Chief Executive Officer Dennis
Muilenburg will meet for the second time since the election with
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday to discuss his company’s
contract to build the next-generation version of Air Force One,
the main presidential aircraft, according to a person familiar
with plans to hold the meeting.
The person, who asked not to be identified discussing a
private meeting, didn’t have details on which aspect of the
plane would be discussed. Trump shook the defense industry —
and put all large U.S. companies with government contracts on
notice — when he tweeted Dec. 6 that “Boeing is building a
brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are
out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”
In the wake of that comment, Muilenburg vowed that Chicago-
based Boeing could build a new version of Air Force One for less
than $4 billion.
“We’re going to get it done for less than that, and we’re
committed to working together to make sure that happens,”
Muilenburg said as he left the president-elect’s Mar-a-Lago
resort in Florida last month. Muilenburg said he gave Trump his
“personal commitment on behalf of the Boeing Company.”
Flying White House
More than a potent symbol of U.S. power, Air Force One
planes are outfitted to highly classified specifications, which
include secure communications and antimissile defenses, so they
can operate as a flying White House in a national crisis. Boeing
is currently under contract for $170 million to help determine
the capabilities of the complex military aircraft.
Boeing isn’t the only defense contractor that’s felt the
fury of Trump’s tweets. Lockheed Martin Corp. CEO Marillyn
Hewson has met twice with Trump after he attacked the company
for “out of control costs” on the F-35 jet, the largest U.S.
weapons program. The $379 billion program for over 3,000
fighters started development in 2001 after Lockheed beat Boeing
in the winner-take-all contest. The 200th aircraft was delivered
Trump even called on Boeing to “price-out a comparable F-18
Super Hornet” to compete with the F-35, a proposal defense
analysts said was probably unworkable given the different roles
and capabilities of the two fighters.
After the president-elect’s criticism, Hewson told Trump
last week that Lockheed is close to a deal with the Pentagon to
lower costs “significantly’’ on the next and largest production
lot yet of F-35s.
At the time of Trump’s tweet about Air Force One, it wasn’t
immediately clear where his estimate of $4 billion originated.
The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said in an interview that the
President-elect may be taking total acquisition costs and
assuming that they are already built into the Boeing contract.
On Air Force One and the F-35, “he’s heard these big
numbers,” Frank Kendall said in an interview. “Those are often
program costs, or maybe acquisition total costs. They’re not
contract values, necessarily.”
“The basic aircraft is a small fraction of that $4 billion
— the 747s we’re buying — so Boeing has part of that cost but
not all of that, by any means,” Kendall said. “We’re still
negotiating with Boeing on that.”
Kendall praised the incoming president, who takes office
Jan. 20, for his focus on reducing taxpayer expenses on large
“His general interest in reducing costs is terrific- — his
focus on that is good, but I think there are a lot of details I
think he needs to absorb before he can talk about specifics,”