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Air Force One to get new refrigerators costing $24M

Air Force One is getting new refrigerators at a cost to taxpayers of $23,657,671.

Boeing won the contract with the Air Force last month, with the cost covering design and installation of the custom chilling units on the two Boeing VC-25As that make up the presidential fleet.

Experts told Defense One that the price is actually reasonable for the job, which is bigger than it sounds. 

Air Force One fridges must be able to store 3,000 meals to feed staffers and crew for up to 10 days, in the event the presidential plane is kept aloft as a flying command post in a national emergency.

Air Force One is seen in Zurich on Thursday. Boeing has a $24million contract to install new customized refrigeration units on the two planes that serve as Air Force One

Five ‘chillers’ on each plane cool a total of 26 climate-controlled compartments, according to the Air Force.


Specification for the two VC-25As that serve as Air Force One: 

Crew: 26 (passenger+crew capacity: 102) 

Engines: General Electric CF6-80C2B1

Thrust: rating 56,700 pounds/engine

Long-range mission takeoff gross weight: 833,000 pounds 

Maximum landing weight: 630,000 pounds

Fuel capacity: 53,611 gallons

Range: 7,800 statute miles

Wing span: 195 feet, 8 inches

Length: 231 feet, 10 inches

Height: 63 feet, 5 inches

Service ceiling: 45,100 feet 

Source: Boeing 

Boeing’s contract is to replace two of the chillers, which cool eight of the compartments.

The current refrigeration units in Air Force One were installed in the 1990s, when the planes went into service.  

Work on the replacements will be performed in Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas, and is expected to be completed by October 30, 2019.

‘Air Force One’ is a colloquial designation that refers to any plane carrying the president. 

There are currently two planes in the presidential fleet, which are 747-200s that have been heavily altered, and are known by the military classification VC-25A. 

Both are set to get refrigeration upgrades under the contract.

A former advisor to President Barack Obama mocked news of the $24million upgrade.

‘We would have been impeached,’ Eric Schultz, a former White House deputy press secretary, wrote on Twitter.

The current aircraft in the presidential fleet are due to be replaced with a pair of Boeing 747-8s.

In December of 2016, then President-elect Donald Trump blasted the estimated $4billion replacement cost as ‘out of control’, adding ‘Cancel order!’ 

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One in Switzerland on Friday. He has previously decried the $4billion cost estimate of replacing the presidential fleet

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One in Switzerland on Friday. He has previously decried the $4billion cost estimate of replacing the presidential fleet

The replacement plans have continued, however. 

In an effort to save costs, the Air Force in August acquired two commercial 747-8s that had been ordered by a Russian airline, but were never delivered after the airline went bankrupt.

In September, Boeing was awarded a $599,999,999 contract to conduct preliminary design work for upgrades to the two 747-8s, which are currently being stored at the Southern California Logistics Airport in the Mojave Desert.

The design round is set to be complete by the end of 2018, and then upgrade work will begin. 

When complete, the resulting upgrades will include ‘a mission communications system, electrical power upgrades, a medical facility, an executive interior, a self-defense system, and autonomous ground operations capabilities’, the Air Force said. 


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