The government aircraft used for overseas state visits will undergo in fiscal 2006 its first full-scale renovation since it was put into service in 1993 to turn it into more of a prime minister’s office in the air.
The government will expand the Boeing 747’s telephone security so encrypted calls can be placed to the Prime Minister’s Official Residence and the Defense Agency. Currently, only the Foreign Ministry has the top security contact with the plane.
An official at the Air Self-Defense Force, which operates the aircraft, said the expanded phone network will greatly improve communication in case of an emergency.
The 6.3 billion yen renovations to the plane will also include connecting all seats with a local area network system for connection to the Internet and dividing the conference room in the center of the plane to make an office equipment room.
The plane so far has been used on 160 occasions. Not only do the prime minister and the Imperial Couple use it, but it has brought five abductees back from North Korea and taken Self-Defense Forces personnel to Iraq for the reconstruction mission there.
In 2002, then German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder accompanied Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi back to Japan on the plane after they attended a summit of Group of Seven in 2002 in Kananaskis, Alberta. Schroeder was on his way to Japan to cheer on the German national soccer team at the World Cup.
The 747, just like the one the U.S. president uses as Air Force One, has another jetliner following it in case the main plane has problems. However, there are no plans to equip the for inflight refueling or missile-attack countermeasures, like Air Force One.