When you're the leader of the free world, you can't just zip around in some crappy Cessna you bought for the price of a Mustang GT. You gotta fly in something nice, something that makes it look like our country still has its shit together. For this reason, the Air Force has chosen the new Boeing 747-8 to be the next Air Force One.
Politico reports that the two aging 747s in the presidential fleet will be replaced by the airliner's most modern variant, which went into service about four years ago. It's not a surprising decision at all — the only other large four-engine option is the Airbus A380, and that's built in France by French people and thus unsuitable for an American head of state.
(Technically, the new planes will replace the Air Force-operated VC-25As; it's only designated Air Force One when the president is onboard.)
The Air Force says the contract with Boeing hasn't been finalized yet, but the Pentagon has earmarked $1.65 billion for the project. Air Force One isn't just a normal plane; it features equipment for in-flight refueling as well as secure communications and electronic countermeasures and it needs a lot of power generation and cooling to run all that.
President Obama won't be the one to get these fancy new digs, however; Bloomberg says no new planes will go into service until at least 2023. But his administration, and that of his successors, will be under great pressure to keep costs down; the Pentagon had to to cancel a $13 billion effort to buy a new fleet of presidential helicopters in 2009.
Whoever the next president is, he or she won't be the first head of state to fly in a VVIP 747-8. The Kuwaiti Government has one and the Qatari Amiri Flight just got theirs as well. It's a baller-ass plane, basically.