Air Force One is the designation of any airplane that serves the President of the United States government. The same planes are used by the vice-president but are called Air Force Two when he is aboard. The presidential fleet consists of two customized Boeing 747-200B aircraft (military designation VC-25A) called SAM 28000 and 29000.
The name Air Force One was established after an incident in 1953, when Eastern Airlines flight 8610 crossed paths with the president’s plane, then called Air Force 8610, although the Air Force One name was not made official until 1962.
Technical information from I Love Air Force One.
Special Air Mission 28000 and 29000
In 1990, the two Boeing 747 (VC-25A) aircraft used today were delivered (having been ordered by Ronald Reagan). The same livery was used, but the interiors were selected by Mrs. Reagan.
A new Air Force One is scheduled to go into service in 2017. The likely candidates are a Boeing 747-8 and a Boeing 787.
VC-25A staff room, looking back down corridor outside conference room (White House)VC-25A senior staff room (White House)VC-25A corridor outside conference room (White House)VC-25A president’s office (White House)
The tail cone of Air Force One bristles with defensive systems at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., in June 2012. Photo and annotations by John GourleyMulti-purpose conformal antennas are almost flush against the fuselage side of this VC-25A presidential aircraft at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., in June 2012. Photo and annotations by John Gourley
Not new to the VC-25A:
- About five AN/ALQ-204 Matador infrared (IR) countermeasures devices are located at the tail and behind the four engines, Previously used on the VC-137C (Boeing 707-320B) presidential aircraft and on airliners and executive aircraft, the device emits pulsed IR signals to foil attacks by heat-seeking missiles.
AN/ALQ-204 Matador infrared (IR) countermeasure
Thought to be new or recent additions to the VC-25A:
- An AN/AAR-54(V) missile launch warning receiver located at the tail is intended to report and track missile threats by zeroing in on their ultraviolet exhaust signature. The receiver is also in use on special-operations warplanes like the MC-130H Combat Talon II.
AN/AAR-54(V) missile launch warning receiver
- The AN/AAQ-24 Nemesis Directional Infra-Red Counter Measures (DIRCM) system, which can be directed by the AAR-54, fires pulsating flashes of IR energy that confuse a missile’s guidance system.
AN/AAQ-24 Nemesis Directional Infra-Red Counter Measures (DIRCM) system
- Conformal antennas: the VC-25As have been retrofitted with multi-purpose conformal antennas adaptable to satellite communications systems and other purposes. They resemble Band-Aids or patches but are, in fact, antennas that appear to have no effect on the aerodynamic performance of the 747.
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The New Air Force One – 747-800
The 747-8 will be the Air Force One replacement to carry around the U.S. President – Image: Jon Ostrower