Political News

Air Force puts a chill on Trump's $24 million fridges for presidential jet

Posted June 4, 2018 5:12 p.m. EDT

— The US Air Force has canceled a $24 million contract for new refrigerators for President Donald Trump's presidential jet.

The decision to cancel the contract was first revealed in a statement issued Monday by Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat who's the ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces.

An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the contract had been canceled, adding that there are no plans at the moment to replace the refrigerators through a future contract.

"The Air Force is making the right decision [to] cancel the previously announced sole-source contract and hit restart on this process," Courtney said in the statement. "Even with the understanding that the Air Force One mission brings with it unique requirements and challenges, a $24 million sole-source contract just didn't pass the smell test."

'The smell test'

Courtney said the decision to cancel the contract was made jointly by the Air Force and the White House Military Office, according to a letter he received from Heather Wilson, the secretary of the Air Force.

In December, the Air Force awarded Boeing a $23.6 million contract to replace two of the five "cold chiller units" aboard the aircraft used by Trump.

The new $24 million chiller units were intended to replace the refrigeration units being currently used, which, according to the Air Force, were part of "the original commercial equipment delivered with the aircraft in 1990."

"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 spokesperson Ann Stefanek told CNN in January, when news of the contract first broke.

Air Force officials said at the time that the high price tag of the initial contract was due to the fact that Air Force One is a one-of-a-kind aircraft, many of its components require unique testing by the Federal Aviation Administration and the cost of the testing is included in the price of components.

Wilson's letter to Courtney said that "mitigation options exist to ensure food security" until a new version of the presidential aircraft, formally known as the VC-25, comes online.

The Air Force announced last year that it had finalized a deal to purchase two already built aircraft from Boeing to serve as the next generation of Air Force One, to fly future presidents around the world for decades to come.

In her letter, Wilson did say that if the new Air Force One planes are delayed, "the Air Force and White House Military Office will need to relook at" replacing the older variant's refrigerators.