Shortly after President Donald Trump was elected, he was highly critical of the reported exorbitant costs of replacement aircraft for the Air Force One presidential jets specially built by Boeing.
The president may soon have something else to say about the high costs of Air Force One that American taxpayers are saddled with, following recent reports on the price tag for replacing two of the aircraft’s five specially constructed refrigerators, according to TheBlaze.
Those two refrigerator units — which are a far cry above the typical household refrigerator or even high-end commercial units — are expected to come with a final bill of nearly $24 million.
The news of the contract for the custom-built refrigerators was initially reported by Defense One, a news site that covers national security issues. The outlet was quick to note that the seemingly inflated price tag was not due to price gouging or a sweetheart deal with Boeing, but merely reflective of the special equipment requirements of Air Force One.
“It’s not a contractor issue, it is a requirements issue. It’s not getting people rich,” stated Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group consulting firm.
He explained that the cost of the refrigerators covered factors like their unique makeup and the fact that the contractors who worked on them required high-level security clearances.
There are actually five “chillers” with 26 different climate-controlled compartments on board Air Force One that are capable of storing roughly 3,000 meals, enough to feed the crew and passengers for several weeks. They were initially built in 1990 along with the current aircraft.
The Washington Post reported that the total cost of the government contract with Boeing to replace two of the five refrigerators would run $23,657,671.
In an email to media, Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek explained that the upgraded refrigerators were needed “to support onboard personnel for an extended period of time, without having to restock while abroad.”
“The (old) units were based on the technology at the time and designed for short-term food storage. Although serviced on a regular basis, reliability has decreased with failures increasing, especially in hot/humid environments,” stated Stefanek. “The units are unable to effectively support mission requirements for food storage.”
The upgraded refrigerators will be worked on at facilities in Oklahoma City and San Antonio, among other locations, and the $24 million price tag will cover such incurred costs as testing and gaining certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.
It is expected that the two new refrigerators will be operational on the jet by the end of October of 2019.
Stefanek declined to answer some questions from the media about the planned upgrade, such as if both identical jets that serve as Air Force One would receive new refrigerators, or if the Air Force had shopped around for the cheapest costs of replacement units.
She also declined to state whether one or both of the jets would be taken out of commission for any length of time while the new units were installed.
It remains to be seen if President Trump will have anything to say about the new refrigerators or perhaps seek to negotiate a lower price. As for the ever-antagonistic liberal media, we can already hear their snarky comments about how many Trump steaks and Diet Cokes will fit inside those new units.