Pentagon probes lapse in Boeing security credentials for Air Force One

FILE PHOTO: A general view of Air Force One as U.S. President Joe Biden arrives at Warsaw Chopin Airport, in Warsaw, Poland, February 20, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

(Reuters) -The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is scrutinizing why Boeing Co employees worked on current and future Air Force One planes without the security credentials required for the highly classified jets.

On March 14, Boeing discovered that "Yankee White" credentials for about 250 employees who work on the Air Force One planes had lapsed, the Air Force and Boeing confirmed.

All of the workers involved have retained current top secret clearances, according to the Air Force and Boeing. However, the additional Yankee White clearance is required for individuals working on matters connected to the presidential aircraft.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the story on Thursday.

The issue affects employees who work on the current presidential airlift fleet as well as the next-generation Air Force One planes, known respectively as VC-25A and VC-25B.

"When Boeing discovered this administrative issue, we quickly notified the Air Force, and, in coordination with the Air Force, we temporarily suspended access to the VC-25A and VC-25B areas for those Boeing employees who were affected," a Boeing spokesperson said.

On March 19, "the vast majority of employees" with lapsed Yankee White credentials were approved to begin working in the secured areas where Air Force One planes are built and maintained, the Air Force said.

The next-generation Air Force One program has struggled with cost and schedule overruns, with Boeing taking about $1.9 billion in charges on its $3.9 billion fixed-price development contract.

The Air Force said that VC-25A and VC-25B operations were not halted over the documentation issue and that there was no impact on the new aircraft's schedule, which calls for the first of two planes to be delivered by September 2027.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru, Valerie Insinna and Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Pooja Desai and Jonathan Oatis)

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