The Air Force office responsible for the acquisition of the VC-25B fleet, more commonly known as the next Air Force One, recently changed its name from the Presidential Airlift Recapitalization Directorate to the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate to better reflect an expanded portfolio and mission.
The new Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate comprises approximately 300 employees located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Tinker AFB and is responsible for the life cycle management of not only the VC-25B, but the VC-25A – current Air Force One – as well as a host of executive and special mission aircraft, including the C-12, C-21, C-32, C-37, C-40 and E-4B, which until recently were part of the Mobility and Training Aircraft Directorate.
“Many of the platforms [aircraft] have similar challenges and a shared mission set, so it made sense to put all of them under a single program executive officer,” said Maj. Gen. Duke Richardson, program executive officer for the Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate. “Our job is to ensure the capabilities on the platforms, especially the communications systems, are common and modular so that the president or any other senior executive that flies on them is presented with a predictable and reliable experience.”
The directorate is also working to replace the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center, the Navy’s E-6B Airborne Command Post and the C-32A executive aircraft. The analysis of alternatives to evaluate potential replacement platforms and mission synergies among the three aircraft recently began and is projected to complete in late 2019.
Directorate officials say that the engineering and manufacturing development phase or EMD – for design, modification, test and certification – for the VC-25B is going well. The program recently conducted its preliminary design review and in a year will complete critical design review.
The directorate is also managing the heavy maintenance of one of the two VC-25As with delivery projected in August 2019. In addition, the directorate is managing the interior refurbishment of the C-32 fleet.
The Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate falls under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, which is the single center responsible for management of the vast majority of the Air Force’s weapon systems from their inception to retirement.