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It’s official: New Air Force Ones will be delivered late

Marine One taxis past Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport on Monday, February 18, 2019. Marine One picked up President Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago and transported him to Miami for a speech at FIU. [ALLEN EYESTONE/palmbeachpost.com/TNS)

It’s official: The new Air Force One will be delivered late.

A top Air Force general confirmed that problems with one of Boeing’s key subcontractors have delayed the $5 billion project, though the extent of those delays is still unknown.

“We’re going to obviously have to look at the schedule [and] we have to look at it pragmatically,” Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force military deputy for acquisition, said Thursday at a McAleese & Associates virtual conference.

Boeing is locked in a legal battle with GDC Technics, a Texas-based company that was supposed to install the highly bespoke interiors on the two 747 airliners. Boeing is converting the planes into flying White Houses in San Antonio, Texas.

“Boeing is working hard, they’ve got another supplier identified, we’re going to transfer as much of the work on the interiors as possible,” Richardson said.

Late last month, Boeing said it was evaluating whether to hire a new company to do the work originally assigned to GDC or do the interior work itself. A Boeing spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.

While Richardson—who before his current assignment at the Pentagon oversaw the new Air Force One project—called the delays “definitely a setback,” he said Boeing has kept the Air Force apprised of the situation. The company has not tried to “back away” from its contract, which requires the company, not taxpayers, to pay for any cost overruns building the aircraft, he said.

Despite the interior delays, workers are busy with other structural modifications to the two planes. The first of the two new planes was supposed to be delivered by the end of 2024.

“We’ve already made a lot of decisions on the interior, but there’s a whole lot of work left to go,” Richardson said. “But I’m very confident in the transparency that Boeing has given us in terms of what happened and what they are doing to fix it.”

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