A spokesman for the US Air Force has questioned President Trump’s claim that he managed to save the taxpayer one billion dollars when negotiating the price of a new Air Force One jet.
Mr Trump bragged about the deal to supporters at a Florida rally last week.
“They were close to signing a $4.2 billion deal to have a new Air Force One,” Trump said Saturday. “Can you believe this? I said, ‘No way.’ I said, ‘I refuse to fly in a $4.2 billion airplane.’”
“We got that price down by over $1 billion,” he continued. “I got the generals in, who are fantastic. I got Boeing in. But I told Boeing, it’s not good enough. We’re not going to do it. The price is still too high.”
Mr Trump has previously suggested he might cancel the renovation of the Air Force One jets altogether, but has since been convinced of the necessity of new jets. The President also owns his own personal Boeing 757, reported to have cost around $100 million dollars.
However, Colonel Pat Ryder, a senior US Air Force figure, was not able to confirm the President’s version of events.
Colonel Ryder told Bloomberg, “To my knowledge I have not been told that we have that information.” He suggested journalists seek clarification from the White House.
The Air Force plans to replace both of its two Air Force One jets — each about 26 years old — by 2024. The Air Force has budgeted $2.7 billion this year for maintenance and upgrades of the planes.
However, the full cost of the renovation is still uncertain, as the plans are at a very early stage.
Boeing is now operating under an initial $172 million contract to work up preliminary plans for the new aircraft. The government expects to award full contracts by June.
Air Force One serves as a mobile office for the President, and as such is outfitted with advanced security systems and able to refuel in mid-air.
The plane also has extensive medical facilities, including an operating table, and carries an extra reserve of the president's blood type in a refrigerator, just in case.
At the time of writing, The White House has not provided any clarification on Mr Trump’s comments.
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