Air Force One just lost its cool. The U.S. Air Force has cancelled an order to add two refrigerators on Air Force One because the new refrigerators would have cost taxpayers $24 million.
Any plane that a sitting president uses becomes Air Force One, but the planes that most frequently serve that role are a customized Boeing 747 model known as the VC-25A.
In December, the Air Force signed a contract with Boeing worth $23,657,671 to replace two of the five "chillers" on the planes. The planes are 28 years old, and the Air Force said that the refrigerators on board use old technology and do not function properly in locations that are hot or humid.
Why was the contract cancelled?
On Feb. 8, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) wrote a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, expressing his "deep concern" about the contract. Courtney is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. That subcommittee oversees the VC-25A.
Courtney wrote that he was "disappointed that the Air Force appears to have not considered pursuing a competitive sourcing process for this work."
If the contract had gone through, the new refrigerators would not have been added until 2020. The planes are scheduled to be replaced not too long after that.
In February, the White House and Boeing announced that they had reached an informal agreement for Boeing to produce two new modified 747s for $3.9 billion. The new planes are scheduled to be ready by 2024, but President Donald Trump said that he would personally like to see them in operation by 2021.
But how will they keep food cold now?
Wilson said that until the new planes arrive, the Air Force will use temporary fixes to keep food cold. Wilson said in a statement that “[w]hile not optimal, mitigation options exist to ensure food security until new aircraft are delivered.”
After the announcement that the Air Force would be cancelling the contract, Courtney released a statement that read:
“I commend the Air Force for reversing this decision and look forward to working with them to ensure the next-generation Air Force One program stays on schedule.”