Trump unveils plans for new Air Force One paint job

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Air Force One’s sky blue-and-white paint is so iconic its trademark coloring helped give away a surprise trip by the president and first lady to Iraq late last year. | Leon Neal/Getty Images

President Donald Trump unveiled proposed changes to the presidential aircraft, including a new red-white-and-blue color scheme for the Air Force One jets that have maintained the same exterior visage for decades.

In an interview that aired Thursday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the president gave host George Stephanopoulos a peek at his new plans, which Stephanopoulos said Trump designed himself.

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“There’s your new Air Force One,” Trump said, holding up mock-ups of the design, which is not scheduled to arrive until 2024. “I’m doing that for other presidents, not for me.”

The jet’s sky blue-and-white paint is so iconic that its trademark coloring helped give away a surprise trip by the president and first lady to Iraq late last year. But the new plan, which incorporates red and navy blue, looks very similar to that of Trump’s personal plane.

Trump holds a particular affinity for aviation, owning his own Boeing 757 that he used to crisscross the country during the 2016 presidential campaign. He even ran the now-defunct Trump Shuttle airline for a short time. But he has a complicated history with Air Force One, the call sign given to presidential aircraft. Shortly after he was elected, he threatened to cancel Boeing’s contract to make the next fleet of presidential planes, decrying the planned cost of the order as “totally out of control.”

He seemed more comfortable with the deal during his interview with ABC, telling Stephanopoulos he’d managed to slash the price tag by $1.6 billion, despite the plans calling for a “much bigger wingspan” on a “much bigger plane.” However, in a statement last July announcing a new contract with Boeing for the jets, the White House said the new $3.9 billion agreement amounted to savings of only $1.4 billion.

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The current planes boast 4,000 square feet of floor space across three levels, according to the White House. In addition to being able to refuel in midair, the planes contain a suite for the president and first lady that includes an office, conference room and living area, as well as room for staff and the media and a food preparation area that can feed 100 people at a time and and a medical suite that can serve as an operating room.

Trump’s proposed changes aren’t expected to face smooth sailing – House lawmakers voted overnight along party lines to add a provision to its annual defense and authorization bill requiring congressional approval for major changes to the planes. The amendment would target changes to the 747’s interior, fixtures and paint.

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