When does the US Air Force retire its iconic ‘tiger coat’
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said on Friday that he expects the service to retire the “tiger-stripe coat” worn by the first and second generation of its Air Force One fleet.
The coat, which was first worn by President Bill Clinton in 1998, was retired in November after more than 40 years of service, with the coat worn by all four members of the current Air Force.
But it remains on display at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, and was the first coat worn in a presidential motorcade.
The service has not released any details on its plans for its own “tigerskin” jacket.
Welsh, who said he is in discussions with the Air Force about retiring the coat, said he expects to retire it as part of a larger initiative to “modernize” the Air Forces and its uniform, but declined to elaborate.
He also said that the coat will remain in the Air National Guard inventory until the end of the service’s fiscal year in 2019.
The Air Force’s first generation of planes and helicopters also were worn by presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
The current generation of aircraft, which is expected to have its final flight in 2020, will be worn by current President Donald Trump.
“The coat is part of our history and our legacy and is part, in my opinion, of our future,” Welsh said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“I would like to see it in museums and museums around the country, but I also think it should stay in the collection as long as possible.”
The Air National Guardsmen who wore the coat at the time were all first-generation airmen, so they are not considered Air Force members, according to a 2016 article in the military journal The Journal of Military History.
They were the first group of men who served in the air force under President George H.W. Bush, and it was the coat’s first use.
“That was our first time wearing it, and that’s where it really came to the fore,” Welsh told AP.
“It’s a little bit of a tribute to our men, to our history.”
Welsh also said he wants to make the coat available to the public through a new museum and museum exhibit, which would include the coat.
“If we can get that public support for it, I think it’s something we could do,” Welsh added.
Welsh said the service has been “looking at different things to try and modernize the Air Guardsman” but he could not give any specific plans.
He said he has talked to the Air Service Academy about the coat and has asked the academy to look at what options might be available.
The academy is the military equivalent of the Smithsonian.
The museum is a joint venture between the National Air and Marine Museum and the Museum of Flight.
It opened in January and is expected soon to host exhibits about the military and aviation.
“We are in the process of working with them to look to see what might be a good fit for them,” Welsh stated.
Welsh added that he had spoken with the museum’s executive director about the possibility of opening a museum exhibit on the coat but declined further comment.
“But at the end you never know, and we will have to wait and see what happens,” he said.