Call it wishful thinking, but I was so hoping to see the Airbus A380 in the Air Force One livery. Alas, my wish will not come true, and I will have to live with this CGI image by Gareth Burgess of Flight International.
EADS North America confirmed that it will not respond to a request for information by the US Air Force for an A380 replacement of the presidential transport called the AF-1.
“In 2007 at the USAF’s request, EADS North America provided technical information and answered questions regarding several of our widebody commercial aircraft as the service conducted its Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to recapitalize the current fleet of presidential aircraft.
“EADS North America’s strategy for growth in the US is based on bringing value to the US warfighter; making industrial investments in the US and insourcing high technology defense and aerospace jobs. After careful review, we’ve determined that participation in the AF-1 program will not help us meet these business objectives.”
“Though the company will not respond to this RFI, we remain focused on once again winning the KC-X competition with Northrop Grumman, delivering the UH-72A LUH to the US Army and meeting the needs of our US defense and homeland security customers.
“We reiterate our strong commitment to the US Department of Defense and to supporting the warfighter with our products and services.”
It is very smart thinking on the part of EADS.
The simple reality, Air Force One, is the symbol of the United States of America. Despite being the leading proponent of the free market system, when it comes to aircraft, US lawmakers seem to follow the rule “Do as I say, not as I do”.
A lesson, EADS learnt all to well, after last year’s high profile hammering of the US Air Force, by the “Buy American” advocating lawmakers, when the Air Force dared select EADS over Boeing, for the US Air Force KC-X tanker program.
Economics have also played a part. There will be the highest levels of security surrounding the Air Force One program, for which EADS would be required to turn over a “green aircraft” to a U.S. company for systems integration modification, and move a significant portion of its production to the United States.
Despite the prestige, EADS may not have found it economically viable, given the fact that only three aircraft are required.