US President-elect Donald Trump has called on the government to cancel an order with Boeing Company for building new Air Force One planes, saying he wants to cut government costs.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the incoming president said the deal would impose uncontrolled costs, later calling them “ridiculous”.
“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!”
The US government has a contract with the Chicago-based company, which has built planes for American presidents since 1943, to build two or more new planes.
As president and commander-in-chief, Trump will have the authority to cancel the contract with Boeing for the new aircraft when he replaces President Barack Obama on January 20.
When asked later about his tweet in the lobby of Trump Tower, he reaffirmed to reporters that “Well the plane is totally out of control.”
“I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money but not that much money,” he said.
Boeing has been given three contracts amounting to $170 million to build the two replacements for the current Air Force One planes, which are scheduled to be in service by 2024.
The aircraft are likely to be outfitted with the latest technology, including top-secret communications equipment, countermeasures to counter missile attacks, and aerial refueling capability so the aircraft can fly for days without landing.
Additional funding has also been earmarked for the two new planes, but the company has not yet been awarded the money to build the proposed replacements.
“We are currently under contract for $170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serves the unique requirements of the President of the United States,” the Boeing statement said.
“We look forward to working with the US Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the President at the best value for the American taxpayer,” the statement added.
The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has estimated in a report that the project’s overall cost will be $3.2 billion, including the purchase of two aircraft, a figure that is expected to rise.
The White House said it was not clear where Trump got the $4 billion figure he cited in his tweet to replace the Air Force One aircraft.
“Some of the statistics that have been cited, shall we say, don’t appear to reflect the nature of the financial arrangement between Boeing and the Department of Defense,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
“I think the American people would expect that future US presidents would benefit from unique and upgraded capabilities while they are traveling and representing the interests of the United States around the world,” he added.
After Trump’s Tuesday tweet, Boeing’s stocks fell more than 1 percent, but recovered most of their losses in afternoon trading.