- The US Air Force’s 89th Airlift Wing provides travel for top government employees, including the president.
- The wing primarily uses a fleet of modified civilian aircraft, including the Boeing 747-200 used as Air Force One.
- Its newest aircraft, a military variant of a Gulfstream G550, was delivered in December to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.
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The US Air Force operates a VIP transportation system for the government’s top employees.
The Air Force, which is known for flying the president on Air Force One, also flies elected officials, cabinet secretaries, and even top generals on a fleet of aircraft configured for VIPs.
As part of the Air Force’s Special Air Mission, the 89th Airlift Wing, which is based at Joint Base Andrews near Washington, DC, operates a VIP fleet with the stated mission of “Enabling national interests through global transportation for America’s senior leaders.”
Its most frequent flyers include the president, vice president, first lady, secretary of state, secretary of defence, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a spokesperson for the wing told Business Insider.
The fleet is primarily made up of civilian aircraft, which are sometimes modified for military use and receive military designations. For example, Air Force One is a modified Boing 747-200 designated as the VC-25A.
The 89th Airlift Wing took delivery of its newest aircraft, a Gulfstream 550 designated as a C-37B, just before Christmas. The US Navy’s website says the aircraft cost $US64 million.
Though the interior of the aircraft hasn’t officially been released, the Air Force provided Business Insider with photos of one of its other Gulfstream C-37Bs.
Here’s a look inside one of the aircraft that the government’s top officials use to jet around the world.
With seating for up to 18 people, according to Gulfstream, there is a variety of configurations to choose from with the G550.
Up to four people can sit on a single couch to maximise the capacity of the aircraft.
Using the aircraft is one of the most secure ways for government officials to travel, and it’s one of the most elite.
Enlisted Air Force service members are trained to be flight attendants on the aircraft and serve the VIP guests on board.
Gulfstream says the range of the aircraft is 6,750 nautical miles with eight passengers.
An Air Force pilot familiar with the C-37B told Business Insider the normal range of the aircraft with a standard load of passengers is about 5,500 nautical miles, enough to fly from Hawaii to Washington, DC, nonstop.
Its twin Rolls-Royce BR710 engines enable the plane to fly at speeds as fast as Mach 0.885.
The aircraft can also fly as high as 51,000 feet, according to Gulfstream, where one can see the curvature of the earth.
Former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, used a similar version of the aircraft for a date night to New York City in 2009.
Not all Air Force VIP aircraft are painted in the “United States of America” blue and white livery, as is seen with the new arrival, with some offering government officials more privacy in a more discrete paint job.
Gulfstream delivered 500 G550s by 2015, 12 years after the aircraft entered service.
A unique feature of the aircraft is the ability for passengers to control the cabin’s amenities, such as lighting and temperature, via a touchscreen device, though it’s unclear whether the Air Force opted for that amenity.
The 89th Airlift Wing also operates other aircraft for VIPs, including the president’s plane, Air Force One, a modified Boeing 747-200 designated as a VC-25A.
A Boeing 757-200, or C-32A, is used primarily by Vice President Mike Pence as Air Force Two.
A Boeing 737-700 BBJ, or C-40, is used primarily by cabinet secretaries and military leaders.
The C-40 is also frequently used for overseas congressional-delegation trips.
A Gulfstream III, known as the C-20, is used for smaller missions.
The 89th Airlift Wing is also preparing for its newest arrivals, two Boeing 747-8i aircraft that will be used as new Air Force One aircraft.
President Donald Trump, who pushed for an inexpensive replacement aircraft and new paint scheme for Air Force One, shows off the model of the plane when foreign leaders to come to visit the White House, according to The Hill.
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