While President Trump has been complaining about the cost of the new Air Force One due to come online sometime after the 2020 election, the current airplane that takes the president and his entourage around the world is aging in and need of repairs.
The most recent breakdown requires the replacement of two of the five refrigerators on board, which is being done by Boeing at a cost of almost $24 million. Since even the best consumer refrigerator can be bought for around $4,000, the idea that two will cost about $12 million each has drawn a lot of notice.
Eric Schultz, who was the White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary under President Obama and one of his key advisors on strategic communications mocked the cost for the new refrigerators when he heard about them, reports The Hill.
If Obama was still president, said Schultz, “we would have been impeached” over it. His brief comment perfectly summarizes the different standards to which Obama and Trump are held. To Republicans, everything Obama does is a scandal and with Trump, it’s as if he can do no wrong.
Defensive Defense Department sources are quick to point out that these are not your typical home or commercial refrigerator, or even like cooling boxes on other airplanes.
“The requirement for Air Force One is the ability to feed passengers and crew for weeks without resupplying,” reports Defense One, which broke the story of the fridges.
“That means,” continues Defense One, “storing about 3,000 meals in massive refrigerators and freezers below the passenger cabin. Five ‘chillers’ cool a total of 26 climate-controlled compartments, according to the Air Force.”
Presumably, Donald needs the fridges in working order to cater to his constant, tax-dollar draining flights down to Florida to golf at Mar-a-Lago. One can only imagine how much McDonald’s food the notoriously terrible eater is able to wedge into cold storage this large and expensive.
“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 spokesman Ann Stefanek told Defense One.
The current Air Force One is a version of the Boeing 747-200 and has been in service since 1990. Meeting “mission requirements” has a lot to do with the high cost of Air Force One.
There are actually two Air Force Ones. According to a recent budget request, it will cost nearly $3.2 billion for two new ones, even though the planes being purchased from Boeing were originally manufactured for a Russian airline that went bankrupt.
The government is said to be getting a very good deal on them, according to Defense One. However, once they are turned over to the feds, the Defense Department builds in defensive counter-measures including a hardening that can withstand electromagnetic pulses caused by nuclear explosions.
If you have ever seen the 1997 movie thriller Air Force One, you have seen what happens when they are expected to stay in the air for long periods of time under rapidly changing circumstances, which is part of the reason they are not off-the-shelf aircraft.
Each plane gets a state of the art communications system and custom interior with offices, conference rooms and seating for White Hosue staff, guests, and journalists.
The replacement refrigerators are also custom made. Although they use existing industry technology, they are much larger than normal units. Each must have 70 cubic feet of Refridgerator storage.
“The engineering required to design, manufacture, conduct environmental testing and obtain Federal Aviation Administration certification are included in the cost,” reports Defense One.
Workers who install them can’t just be the usual technicians. They must each have a high-level security clearance, which makes them much more expensive than your already overpriced appliance repairmen.
The new coolers are expected to be up and running in October 2019, about two years before the new planes are expected to be ready.
So well Shultz’s joke may have a grain of truth in terms of the high cost, there isn’t much Trump can or will say. Afterall, he will want his cheeseburger free of bacteria and his diet coke chilled and ready when he is hungry and if that costs $24 million, remember it is not fast food, and as long as he is eating he is not starting World War III.
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