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Firm with Saudi ties works on Air Force One, other VIP jets

Published: February 18, 2016
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Source: USA Today

A company owned by a Saudi investor works on Air Force One and other VIP aircraft that fly Cabinet secretaries and other dignitaries around the world, USA TODAY has learned.

GDC Technics has been servicing President Obama's jet as a contractor for Boeing, according to the Air Force. This is the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that a contractor from a business with foreign ties has worked on Air Force One.

The company was bought in 2013 by MAZ Aviation, which is owned by Saudi businessman Mohammed Alzeer. It also has operations in Fort Worth, Texas, and in Germany.

The Air Force considers the security of Air Force One a top priority, said Lt. Col. Chris Karns, a spokesman. The White House declined to comment.

"While we can't go into specific details about security measures, there are stringent security protocols in place,” Karns said. “The security processes related to Air Force One are proven and effective.  GDC, a subcontractor to Boeing, does not have unsupervised access to the aircraft nor do they have access to sensitive information about the plane.  This particular subcontract is for cabinets, desks, and other furnishings and all work is conducted offsite."

No foreign nationals have access to Air Force One at any time, Karns said. Generally, GDC employees complete work on furnishings in San Antonio, and Boeing employees re-install items on the plane. But GDC employees who are U.S. citizens with proper background checks are escorted on to Air Force One to conduct repairs, he said.

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