US President Donald Trump arrived in India on Monday on a two-day official visit. The President’s delegation, including wife Melania, daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner and several senior members of the US cabinet, reached Ahmedabad airport on the Air Force One, the highly customised Boeing 747-200B series aircraft which symbolises the US presidency.
The presidential plane – it goes by the radio call sign of Air Force One when the president is on board – was once a Boeing 707 that had orange above and below the nose and “United States of America” painted on the sides in blocky, all-caps lettering.
According to Boeing history, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy picked new colours for the plane used by her husband, President John F Kennedy. A swath of baby blue covers the nose and sweeps back along each side of the fuselage. The lettering was changed to a font inspired by the heading of the Declaration of Independence.
Since the middle of the 20th century, it has been standard practice to refer to specific planes that are equipped to transport the US President, according to the White House. The Air Force designation for the aircraft is VC-25A and carries the tail codes 28,000 and 29,000.
These planes are designed to be an airborne White House able to fly in worst-case security scenarios, such as nuclear war, and are modified with military avionics, advanced communications and a self-defence system.
The plane is capable of refueling mid-air and has unlimited range so that it can carry the President wherever he needs to travel. The White House says that the onboard electronics are hardened to protect against an electromagnetic pulse, and Air Force One is equipped with advanced secure communications equipment, allowing the aircraft to function as a mobile command centre in the event of an attack on the United States.
It also gives the US President and his entourage a floor space of 4,000 square feet spread over three floor, including an “Oval Office” for the President, a presidential suite and conference room. The plane also includes a medical suite and a doctor is permanently onboard.
Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the White House Military Office.
Trump reached an agreement with the Boeing Co in 2018 to provide two Air Force One planes for $3.9 billion. He later told CBS in an interview that the new model Air Force One would be updated on the inside and have a different exterior colour scheme from the current white and two shades of blue dating back to President Kennedy’s administration.
“Red, white and blue,” Trump said. “Air Force One is going to be incredible. It’s going to be the top of the line, the top in the world. And it’s going to be red, white and blue, which I think is appropriate.”