Air Force One: New fridges for Donald Trump’s presidential planes to cost $24m

Boeing gets contract to replace huge 1990s chillers with latest models ‘to support on-board personnel for an extended period of time, without having to restock while abroad’

Jon Sharman
Saturday 27 January 2018 12:59
Comments
US President Donald Trump gestures as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on 12 January, 2018, for a weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago
US President Donald Trump gestures as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland on 12 January, 2018, for a weekend trip to Mar-a-Lago

Air Force One, the military-spec jet liner that ferries President Donald Trump around the globe, is to receive a $24m (£17m) refrigerator upgrade.

Boeing was handed the contract to design and install two gigantic chillers on the aircraft that will store enough food to keep crew members, travelling journalists, Mr Trump and his advisers going for weeks at a time.

The current units have been running for more than a quarter of a century, according to the US Air Force (USAF), and have become unreliable.

Air Force One is the name of whichever of two VC-25 planes – which are modified 747s – the President is flying in.

Work is expected to be completed in October 2019, a Department of Defence contract notice said.

“The current rear lower lobe cold chiller units being replaced are the original commercial equipment delivered with the aircraft in 1990.

“The units were based on the technology at the time and designed for short-term food storage”, a USAF spokesperson told CNN.

She added: “Although serviced on a regular basis, reliability has decreased with failures increasing, especially in hot/humid environments.

“The units and associated aircrafts’ structural modifications are being specially designed to provide nearly 70 cubic ft of temperature-controlled (refrigeration/freezer) storage to support onboard personnel for an extended period of time, without having to restock while abroad.”

Eric Schultz, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, joked on Twitter that “we would have been impeached” for incurring similar costs.

Air Force One is not merely a transport plane but a three-deck, 4,000-sq-ft mobile command centre, hardened against electromagnetic attack and with secure communication facilities and a medical bay.

The pair of radically customised Boeing 747s can also refuel in-flight and their galleys can feed 100 people at a time.

Running one for just an hour is thought to cost some $200,000 (£141,000).

The USAF is planning to buy two replacement planes to serve as the new Air Force One – a pair of Boeing 747-8s.

The defence giant claims the new, larger version can fly further and faster than the old 747-200, while pumping out 16 tons less carbon dioxide “per trip”.

But in December 2016, before he took office, Mr Trump tweeted that the cost of the programme was “out of control” and urged its cancellation.

The order appears still to be on track, with the aircraft due to enter service in 2024.

Lyndon B Johnson is sworn in as President on Air Force One, 22 November, 1963 (Getty)

Before the current 1990s-vintage VC-25s, US Presidents flew aboard Boeing VC-137Cs. The modified 707 airliners, first tail number SAM 26000 and later SAM 27000, served chief executives from John F Kennedy to George H W Bush.

Famously, following Mr Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Lyndon B Johnson was sworn into office aboard Air Force One – SAM 26000 – while standing beside the killed President’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy.

The first President to fly while in office was Franklin D Roosevelt, who boarded a Boeing Model 314 Clipper seaplane to meet with Winston Churchill in Casablanca in 1943.

Theodore Roosevelt, however, was the first President ever to take to the air – accompanying pilot Arch Hoxsey in his Wright Co Type AB on a flight in Kinloch, Missouri, in 1910, a decade after he had left office.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in