White House reaches informal deal with Boeing for Air Force One

WASHINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump has reached an agreement with the Boeing Co to provide two Air Force One planes for $3.9 billion, the White House said on Tuesday.

"President Trump has reached an informal deal with Boeing on a fixed-price contract for the new Air Force One Program," Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told Reuters. He said the contract will save taxpayers more than $1.4 billion, but those savings could not be independently confirmed.

Trump has said Boeing's costs to build replacements for Air Force One aircraft - one of the most visible symbols of the U.S. presidency - were too high and urged the federal government in a tweet to "Cancel order!"

The Boeing 747-8s 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-defense system.

"President Trump negotiated a good deal on behalf of the American people," Boeing said in a news release.

U.S. aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia said the White House was engaging in "political theater." 

RELATED: Take a look at President Trump's current Air Force One details and interior:

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U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Air Force One is seen on the tarmac of the Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R), speaks briefly to reporters as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R), speaks briefly to reporters as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania wave as they board Air Force One to travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave outside Air Force One before returning to Washington D.C. at Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The first presidential jet "Air Force One", Airpark, The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington, USA
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands as they arrive to board Air Force One for travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media on board of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews before departure to Lynchburg, in Prince George's County, outside Washington, U.S., May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
The US embassy defence attache salutes as the Air Force One aircraft prepares to taxi with US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama on board at Palam Air Force station in the Indian capital New Delhi on January 27, 2015. President Barack Obama said the United States could be India's 'best partner' January 27 as he wrapped up a three-day visit to New Delhi by highlighting the shared values of the world's biggest democracies. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Air Force One landing
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to reporters en route with President Donald Trump to a NATO summit in Brussels aboard Air Force One May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with reporters after departing Saudi Arabia en route to Israel with U.S. President Trump's delegation aboard Air Force One, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and his son Barron board Air Force One to depart Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., on their way to Florida March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalist members of the travel pool accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump on board of the Air Force One during his trip to Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists, members of the travel pool, on board of Air Force One during his trip to Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Air Force One Presidential air transport flies over Mt Rushmore
US President Barack Obama walks to greet wellwishers before boarding Air Force One for departure from Forbes Field Airport in Topeka, Kansas, January 22, 2015. Obama returns to Washington after traveling on a two-day, two state trip to Idaho and Kansas following his State of the Union address. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, January 22, 2015. Obama returns from a 2-day, 2-state trip to Idaho and Kansas following his State of the Union address. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Air Force One with United States President Barack Obama aboard departs Joint Base Andrews Maryland, U.S., December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
The interior of very first jet Air Force One, a Boeing 707, is seen at the The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, September 6, 2012. (Photo by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) holds his daily press briefing aboard Air Force One as it approaches Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump step from Air Force One as they arrive for a "Make America Great Again" rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway chats with repoters on board Air Force One as they wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to arrive for travel to Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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"There's no evidence of a discount," said Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal Group.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon released Air Force budget documents for fiscal year 2019 disclosing the $3.9 billion cost for the two-aircraft program. The same 2018 budget document, not adjusted for inflation, showed the price at $3.6 billion.

Boeing would only have so much room to offer discounts given the high proportion of supplier content on Air Force One, from refrigerators to missile warning systems, Aboulafia said by phone.

The big U.S. defense contractor said the deal includes work to develop and build two planes, including unique items such as a communications package, internal and external stairs, large galleys and other equipment.

The "informal deal" will need to be codified in a formal contract with comprehensive, complex terms and conditions said Franklin Turner, a partner specializing in government contracts at law firm McCarter & English, suggesting a final deal was still a ways off.

Boeing stock was up 1.4 percent at $368.54, trading at an all-time high. (Reporting by Jim Oliphant, Alluison Lampert and Mike Stone; Editing by Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

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