Air Force One, the call-sign given to the President Obama’s Boeing VC-25A jet draped in patriotic paint, is one of the most enduring symbols of American power.
Now, British Prime Minister David Cameron will get a his own ministerial plane and will no longer have to charter privately-owned aircraft.
Prime Minister Cameron’s new plane will be an Airbus A330MRTT Voyager, the BBC reported.
The aircraft, which belongs to the Royal Air Force, will be converted from its current fuel tanker configuration to ministerial transport.
According to the BBC, the conversion will cost roughly $US15 million and is expected to save $US1.2 million a year for the next 20 years.
Currently, it costs the British Government roughly $US10,000 per hour to charter planes for the Prime Minister, a source told the British news agency. With the new plane, that cost drops to around $US3,000 per hour.
The conversion for ministerial duties would include the addition of 158 passenger seats and an advanced secure communications system.
The British said that the aircraft will retain Royal Air Force livery and be used as a tanker when not deployed for official travel.
The Airbus A330 MRTT (MRTT stands for Multi Role Tanker Transport) is based on the Airbus A330-200 wide-body airliner. According to Airbus Defence, 52 of the aircraft have been sold to seven air forces around the world including the United Kingdom, France and Australia.
The A330 MRTT — valued at more than $US200 million per plane — has a range of 8,000 nautical miles and can fly at 0.86 times the speed of sound.
United States currently operates a fleet of two Boeing 747-based VC25 aircraft out of Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. The VC-25 jets assume the call sign “Air Force One” once the President steps on board. The current generation VC-25 aircraft entered service in 1990 during the George H.W. Bush administration and are based on the dated 747-200B passenger jet.
Earlier this year, the US Air Force announced that a new Boeing 747-8I based aircraft will succeed the VC-25A in 2018.
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