Air Force One is upgrading its refrigerators, and the cost to taxpayers will be a cool $24 million.
Under a new government contract awarded to Boeing, the U.S. Air Force will pay the aeronautics behemoth $23,657,671 to replace two of the five chiller units on the plane used by President Trump.
Both of those units, which are used to store food, were installed on the plane when it was originally delivered in 1990, according to the Air Force. Increasingly, however, the plane has needed additional cold food storage space “to support onboard personnel for an extended period of time, without having to restock while abroad,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in an email.
“The [old] units were based on the technology at the time and designed for short-term food storage,” Stefanek said. “Although serviced on a regular basis, reliability has decreased with failures increasing, especially in hot/humid environments. The units are unable to effectively support mission requirements for food storage.”
Air Force One, carrying President Trump, taxis for takeoff in Zurich on Friday, after the World Economic Forum. (Ennio Leanza/European Pressphoto Agency)
The new refrigerator units will have nearly 70 cubic feet of storage space, she said.
The $24 million will also cover the cost of testing and certification by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the contract. Work related to the upgrade will be carried out in Oklahoma City, San Antonio and other cities, and the work is expected to be done by the end of October 2019, the contract stated.
The high-cost upgrade was first reported by Defense One, which detailed the unique needs of the presidential aircraft — the plane reportedly needs refrigerated storage space for about 3,000 meals — as well as the White House’s and Air Force’s strict requirements for “bespoke equipment” when it comes to Air Force One.
“It’s not a contractor issue; it is a requirements issue,” Richard Aboulafia, a vice president at the Teal Group consulting firm, told the defense and national security news site. “It’s not getting people rich.”
Source: The Washington Post