The Pentagon has commissioned a prototype of a new supersonic Air Force One that could one day ferry the president around the world at nearly twice the speed and half the time currently required to travel.
The Air Force has awarded a 24-month, $1million contract to Exosonic, a start-up aerospace company that is developing a 70-seat, passenger aircraft that can fly at Mach 1.8 speeds ‘supersonically overland and overwater with a muted sonic boom,’ according to the firm’s website.
The contract was announced on Monday by the Air Force’s Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate.
An aircraft that can fly at Mach 1.8 could theoretically reach speeds of 1,380mph.
Exosonic will be tasked with reimagining a new presidential plane that will need to factor in variables including ‘power, weight, dimensions, communication systems, and cabin layout,’ Air Force Materiel Command told Military.com.
The above image shows a rendering of what a future supersonic version of Air Force One could look like
The Air Force awarded a 24-month, $1million contract to Exosonic, a start-up aerospace company that is developing a 70-seat, passenger aircraft that can fly at Mach 1.8 speeds ‘supersonically overland and overwater with a muted sonic boom,’ according to the firm’s website
Air Force One, the highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft described as a three-level 'flying Oval Office,' is currently one of the fastest planes in the world. It can travel at a top speed of 600mph, which is almost the speed of sound
‘Low-boom allows travelers to fly at supersonic speeds without generating disruptive booms for those on the ground,’ said AFMC spokesman Daryl Mayer.
‘Exosonic’s aircraft can provide top US leaders and diplomats rapid transportation around the world to meet with world leaders or react to developing situations on the ground,’ the company said.
‘By utilizing Exosonic's boom softening techniques, the passengers can travel overland and overwater at supersonic speeds, pending regulations, to roughly reduce their cruise times in half compared to existing aircraft.’
‘The future for global rapid passenger travel is low-boom supersonic flight. Low boom allows travelers to fly at supersonic speeds without generating disruptive booms for those on the ground,’ said Exosonic CEO Norris Tie.
‘Exosonic is excited to win this contract as it represents not only commercial but government promise for low-boom supersonic travel.’
Air Force One, the highly customized Boeing 747-200B series aircraft described as a three-level 'flying Oval Office,' is currently one of the fastest planes in the world. It can travel at a top speed of 600mph, which is almost the speed of sound.
Several other firms are also working on bringing back supersonic travel after the demise of the Franco-British supersonic airliner Concorde. In July 2000, an Air France Concorde crashed just after takeoff from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, killing all 109 on board and four people on the ground. The above image shows an Air France Concorde in 1988
During flight, Air Force One is capable of reaching a maximum altitude of 45,100 ft.
By comparison, a commercial airliner usually reaches about 30,000ft.
It is built to support the weight of up to 70 passengers as well as living quarters for the president, his senior advisers, Secret Service officers, reporters, and guests.
The current version of the plane also holds 4,000sq ft of space which includes a conference room, offices, and top-of-the-line electronics that enables the president to work in-flight.
Air Force One also holds two galleys for food preparation, a doctor on board every flight, and a medical operating room.
There are currently two Air Force One planes in service today. The aircraft carries the tail codes 28000 and 29000.
Artist's impression: Boeing says the new Air Force Ones, which will be based on its 747-8 series, could look like this
Two Boeing 747-8s will be modified to replace the existing fleet of presidential 747-200s, which are designated VC-25A by the Air Force.
The Trump Force One planes are expected to enter service by 2024 and will be designated VC-25B. Here is how the old and new compare.
Boeing 747-200: 95ft 8in
747-8: 224ft 5in
747-200: 31ft 10in
747-8: 205ft 2in
747-200: 0.85 Mach - 644.5 miles per hour
787-8: 0.855 Mach - 656.0 miles per hour
747-200: 6,375 nautical miles - equivalent of Washington D.C. to Tokyo
757-8: 7,730 nautical miles - equivalent of Washington D.C. to Hong Kong
Maximum load at take-off
747-200: 833,000lb - 427.5 tons
747-8: 987,000lb - 493.5 tons
On board facilites
Travel in style: President Obama in the 747-200's conference / dining room
747-200: In-flight refueling; self-contained baggage loader; two galleys providing 100 meals in one sitting; capacity for 3,000 frozen meals held in five chillers; conference / executive dining room; self-contained office for president; sitting area which converts into bedroom for president and first lady; on-board hospital; offices for staff; crew rest area; business-class style cabin for reporters.
747-8: Specifications still to be released but extra floor area - the top deck is more than twice as long as on a 747-200 - will mean more space for conference and rest areas. 747-8s can allow extra rest areas above the passenger floor at the rear called the 'crown'.
747-200: Commissioned by Ronald Reagan, entered service 1990 and have carried presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. They will fly the winner of the 2020 election.
Obama on board: The 44th president was one of five who have flown on the 747-200s. If Trump loses in 2020, that number will climb to six
Personal space: Laura Bush and her husband President George W. Bush in the president and first lady's quarters
747-8: Need for new presidential planes first put in writing in 2009, with three requested. Airbus A380s were also considered but their manufacturer dropped out of consideration. Latest order is due to be delivered in 2024 - meaning if Trump wins a second term he might be able to fly in them before he leaves office.
Who else has got one
747-200: No other known VIP 747-200s exist. No 747-200s remain in scheduled commercial passenger servicesonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
747-8: Current owners of VIP 747-8s are believed to include: Qatar, four, one reserved for the emir; Kuwait, one; Sultan of Oman, one; Sultan of Brunei, one; Morocco for use by its king, one; United Arab Emirates, seven; Hong Kong real estate tycoon Joseph Lau
The current planes were purchased when Ronald Reagan was president. They were first introduced into service during the administration of Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush.
Several years ago, Boeing decided to shut down production of the 747-200 series.