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Aerospace expert: Boeing criticism is ‘complete madness’

On Tuesday morning, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that he wants the government to cancel its multi-billion dollar order with Boeing to build the brand new Air Force One.

Trump’s reasoning is that Boeing is “doing a little bit of a number.”

Boeing won the contract to build the new Air Force One in January 2015, but no plane has been officially ordered by the Department of Defense.

Aerospace industry expert Richard Aboulafia says this is “complete madness.”

“I scratched my head and thought I might be asleep and might be dreaming … but it turns out I was alive, awake, and at my computer,” he told Seattle’s Morning News.

The cost for the planes was an estimated $3 billion, according to the Associated Press, but costs have reportedly been rising. Aboulafia says this isn’t Boeing trying to make a ton of money.

“It’s actually what it costs to have two airplanes that can survive a nuclear war and transport the president in times of national emergency, and any other time for that matter,” he explained.

Reading into the tweet

What Trump appears to be saying is either the president doesn’t need the planes to travel, or decades-old Air Force One planes will do the job just fine now and in the future, Aboulafia says. Both are “very concerning statements.”

This could be an attempt to cut spending from one area of the budget so Trump can pump more money into national defense.

“This probably just crossed his radar as something that was expensive and not directly related to the war effort,” Aboulafia said.

Give Trump some credit

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross suggested perhaps we should give Trump the benefit of the doubt. The president-elect is a negotiator, after all. Maybe this is just another example of Trump telling a company that the administration will be hard bargainers.

Aboulafia says if Trump hadn’t announced this on Twitter he might believe that. But Twitter is not the place to do it.

Another thing to remember is that the price is the price. There is a basic plan, and then the added costs of installing all kinds of encrypted technologies.

“Is Boeing getting rich on this deal? No,” Aboulafia said. “Far from it.”

Boeing’s statement

Not long after Trump tweeted his disgust for the price of two new Air Force One planes, Boeing released this statement:

“We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the President of the United States. We look forward to working with the U.S. Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer.”

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