Trump Wants To Redesign Air Force One

Donald Trump wants a flashier looking Air Force One. What could possibly go wrong?

If Donald Trump gets his way, the new version of Air Force One could end up looking very different from what we’ve become used to:

President Trump has ordered up a bold new paint job for Air Force One.

In an interview with CBS News, Trump said that two new replacements of the presidential jet due to be unveiled in several years will be painted red, white and blue, in a departure from the plane’s current light blue color scheme.

“I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors?’ And we’re not. You know what colors we’re using? Take a guess,” Trump told CBS’s Jeff Glor. “Red, white and blue.”

Trump made the comments in an interview that was taped in Scotland last weekend and aired Tuesday.

He added that the remodeled plane is going to be “incredible” and “the top in the world” — but that he likely won’t get the chance to fly in it himself as president, or, at least, not for long.

The new Air Force One “will be largely for future presidents, because by the time it gets built — I hate to say this — it’s going to be a long time; it’s a very complex project,” Trump said.

The Air Force on Tuesday awarded a contract to Boeing for the two new airplanes at a total cost of $3.9 billion, the White House confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

The news follows a preliminary deal announced by the White House in February after months of negotiation with Boeing.

The new planes are scheduled to be delivered by 2024, the White House said Wednesday, meaning that Trump would still have the chance to ride them as president if he won a second term.

The current Air Force One made its debut in 1990, but the light blue paint scheme dates back to the early 1960s when a new plane needed to be commissioned during the early years of the Kennedy Administration. According to historians, it was Kennedy’s wife Jacqueline who provided to be the voice behind the paint scheme that has been used on the planes that have served as Air Force One, as well as many other government planes, over the past five decades. Trump’s decision to change the paint scheme, assuming it goes forward, would be the first such change since that period, although it’s unclear if it would also apply to other government planes used by the military and Cabinet officials.

In any case, Axios provided a mock-up of what the Trump version of Air Force One might look like:

There’s really not much one can say about it other than the fact that, given Trump’s decorating tastes in other respects, it could end up being much, much worse.

In any case, as noted the plane is not scheduled to be delivered until 2024 and, even assuming that the new Trumpian design is approved, one assumes that a new President elected in 2020 could make changes to the Trumpian paint scheme without causing significant delays to the project.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. M. Bouffant says:

    This is a clear demonstration of what Republicans are about: Empty gestures & shallow, substanceless surfaces. Appearance is all that counts. Flag pin politics.

  2. Mikey says:

    Watch it be white on top, red in the middle, and blue on the bottom.

  3. CSK says:

    You just know he’s furious because it can’t be renamed “Trump Force One.” Will the toilets be gold? The sinks and counters marble? White faux leather seats?

  4. Moosebreath says:

    And here I thought the picture link was going to go to the Trump Taj Mahal casino. Pictures:


  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    I suppose we should be glad it’s not solid gold with all the lettering written in diamonds.

  6. wr says:

    Remember when he managed to get millions of dollars cut from the price? Magically they’ve all reappeared.

  7. gVOR08 says:

    it could end up being much, much worse.

    Guaranteed. Remember, he’s afraid of eagles.

    More seriously, has our government become so sclerotic it can no longer function? For four billion dollars (like that won’t creep up), we’re supposed to get two obsolete airplanes, only because Boeing found two old 747s in storage somewhere.

    The Marine Ones, the presidential helicopters, were supposed to be replaced years ago. But the program bloated to where Obama killed it. There’s a new project that claims to be going well, but it’s early yet.

  8. Guarneri says:

    I heard (from an unnamed source) he wants to put the Russian flag on it, and a cabin for Putin. He’s a Russian plant, you know.

    I heard it on CNN. Or was it here?

  9. al Ameda says:

    “I said, ‘I wonder if we should use the same baby blue colors?’ And we’re not. You know what colors we’re using? Take a guess,” Trump told CBS’s Jeff Glor. “Red, white and blue.”

    I just don’t see how the Hammer and Sickle can be displayed in red white and blue, can you? Red and white, yes, I get that, but blue?

    I still think he really wants gold lettering and his name on that plane.

    Trump practically defines the term (highly-leveraged, Russian-sponsored) Rich Trash.

  10. Kathy says:


    For four billion dollars (like that won’t creep up), we’re supposed to get two obsolete airplanes, only because Boeing found two old 747s in storage somewhere.

    Not quite. There are several iterations of the 747. The current Air Force 1 planes are 747-200s which are really old. They were replaced by the 747-400 in the late 80s.

    The latest variant is the 747-8i, which Boeing developed to compete, in a way, with the A380. The first flight of this variant was in 2011, which is practically last week by aviation development standards. So it’s hardly an obsolete model.

    The irony is the pair the Air Force wants, or has acquired (I’m not following the matter closely), are planes bought by a defunct Russian airline, Transaero, which were never delivered (and I guess not paid off either). What I’ve read suggests they were flight tested, then stored in the big airplane parking area at Mojave airport, where they benefit from one of the driest climates on the planet. So they’re in new condition.

    The bad news is that repainting an airplane isn’t that expensive, difficult or time consuming. Airlines regularly repaint some of their planes with promotional liveries for limited times (like ANA did three Star Wars themed liveries recently, for example).

    So the Cheeto could have the current pair repainted any time.

    BTW, airframe age is measured in cycles, that is in the number of takeoffs, pressurizations and landings, as that is what ages the frame through metal fatigue. Engine lifespans are measured in hours in operation. The AF1s fly few cycles for few hours every year, compared especially to any commercial plane, even taking training flights into account. So they last a long, long time.

  11. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW, Kevin Drum has a pretty good rundown of the various cost estimates for the planes. Bottom line is that the estimate has been around $4B for years. Then Trump came in and said he was going to negotiate a yugely better deal. The most recent cost estimate? $3.95B. So why is Trump saying he saved over a billion dollars? (Do you really have to ask?) He pulled a number out of the air and said the asking price had been $5.2B.

    To normal people this just reinforces what we’ve always known: Trump’s “incredible” negotiating skills are just BS. He failed at all of his businesses until he finally hit upon licensing his name to money laundering schemes. But to Trump’s supporters! My god, the man’s a genius! Basically Trump is a mean version of Jim and a Tammy Faye Baker. And his supporters are mean versions of the people that pair fleeced.

  12. Mr. Prosser says:
  13. Mikey says:


    So why is Trump saying he saved over a billion dollars? (Do you really have to ask?) He pulled a number out of the air and said the asking price had been $5.2B.

    Well, he pulled it out of somewhere, but I don’t think the air up there is very good.

  14. Kathy says:


    From what I’ve read, other things that drive up the price are that the Air Force won’t consider a twin engine plane, nor any foreign-built plane.

    This rules out all Airbus products (though who knows, maybe El Cheeto would like the new wide body the Russians are building), as well as the Boeing 777 in its many variants, the Boeing 787 or even the Boeing 767 (yes, it’s still in production!)

    Since there is exactly one manufacturer of wide body jets in the US, and they make one model of four-engine passenger jet, the choice is so obvious even perhaps Trump can see it.

    I can understand the 4 engine requirement. While a twin jet can be safely flown on one engine, this requires reducing speed and altitude, and diverting to the nearest airport. A four engine plane can, if need be, complete a long flight on three engines, with a smaller reduction in speed. The nearest airport may not be secure, for example. So I get that.

    I don’t get the idea of sticking with Boeing to the exclusion of Airbus. It’s made by US allies, who were close and friendly before Mangolini started bullying them, and there’s even an Airbus assembly line in Alabama (though they only make narrow body aircraft there, like the A320-1 and soon the A220). Surely parts and support would be easy to get.

    Airbus has only one 4 engine plane, though, the double-deck A380, which has a bigger inner surface area (two full decks, rather than the 747’s 1.5 decks), higher weight, and requires more fuel. And production is pretty much on life support, as few airlines want more. true the B747-8i sold poorly, but the nearly identical freight version, the B747-8F, is selling rather well. So the choice might as well have been the Boeing plane on merits, not on origin.

    As to the other Boeings, the 767 and 787 are perhaps too small for the mission, plus the 767 is an 80s era design. But the 777 is almost as big as a 747 without an upper deck. If we were to add Airbus models, the A350-900 XWB (that’s eXtra Wide Body) would do almost as well as the 777.

  15. Mikey says:


    A four engine plane can, if need be, complete a long flight on three engines, with a smaller reduction in speed.

    Back in my military days, I was on a C-5 from Kuwait City to El Paso. We had to make an unscheduled stop in southern Spain to fix a cracked windscreen, but we were soon on our way again. Not before we had a chance to imbibe healthy portions of the wonderful sherry wine they make there. So we all conked out in the passenger compartment. When we woke up, though, we weren’t in El Paso, we were in Dover, Delaware.

    “Why did we have to stop again?” we asked. The loadmaster’s reply: “Well…the number three engine quit over the North Atlantic.”

  16. de stijl says:

    I’d go with metal flake with ceramic coating, undercarriage LEDs that cycle through red, white, and blue and one big, bad-ass spoiler on the butt-end.

    Some cool AF ornament on the nose cone – Lady Liberty with huge bazooms and a booty like “pow!”, like that – not thicc per se, but juicy.

    And a hood intake scoop.

    Spinners on the wheels, of course. But also spinners on the jet intake fans and on the exhaust nozzles – that’s the special sauce. Who saw that coming?

    Aesthetically, I prefer nickel myself – classier, but just chrome the shit out of that thang, cuz bitchez dig shiny.

  17. Liberal Capitalist says:

    As fitting with this presidency, I hear that Austin Power’s has been retained as a design consultant.

    Yeah Baby! Does this new paint job make you feel randy baby?!!?

  18. de stijl says:

    Also, it rides too high. You gotta lower that. It’s a plane, so that could be a problem. Solution – skid plates! Diamond plate. He lands in Timbuktu or wherever in a trail of sparks! That’s an entrance.

    Changed my mind on the chrome – it’s Trump so go solid gold and just add a turbocharger to make up for the added weight. Also, no eagle, go with that Illuminati pyramid with the spooky eye.

    My boy lil Tige down on East 2nd can hook this all up. He’s a pro.

  19. Kathy says:


    Standard procedure is to divert to the nearest airport if an engine fails. When that’s not an option, though, or when the trip needs to be completed, a 4 engine plane can go on longer and faster than a twin engine. It’s basic math: 1 less engine on a twin engine plane means losing 50% of available thrust; the same on a four engine plane is a loss of 25%.

    As an example consider 9/11. Bush the younger was kept aloft on AF1 for a long while (it’s safe up therer; there’s an aircraft called NEACP, also a 747, to serve as a command post in case of nuclear war, I am not making this up). Had the plane lost an engine without endangering the plane, it could have stayed aloft for a long while.

    Or suppose he’d been in London or Paris when the attacks happened. no doubt he’d have rushed home. had then AF1 lost an engine while approaching the Canadian coast, it could keep going to DC without trouble. A twin engine plane could, too. But more slowly and without any backup should the second engine fail.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    Random Trivia: “Air Force 1” is not actually the name of the plane. My understanding is that it is he designation used for any plane the President is flying in. “Marine Corps 1” is for Helicopters.

  21. Mikey says:

    @Kathy: I guess the crew figured it was just as well to continue on and land in Dover rather than going back to Spain. (Too bad Keflavik wasn’t an option!)

    Sadly, this all meant I spent my first wedding anniversary far from my bride and ended up crashing a random CMSgt’s retirement party at the base NCO Club, drowning my sorrows there. At least the beer was cheap.

    (CMSgt = Chief Master Sergeant, the USAF’s highest enlisted rank.)

  22. Stormy Dragon says:


    Any aircarft carrying the president is “[branch of service] One” and any aircraft carrying the vice president is “[branch of service] Two”. There has been a Navy One and several Army Ones (prior to 1976, the army and marines took turns providing the Presidential helicopter). There’s also been a Coast Guard Two and two Executive Twos from cases where the Vice President was on a coast guard and civilian aircraft respectively.

  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    There was also one case where Nixon flew on a commercial flight that got the Executive One designation.

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: That’s not fair. What says “aerodynamic” better than a pave diamond fuselage? And besides that, the texture provides a valuable heat diffusion function during supersonic flight (which is coming back any day now, just you wait).