It seems this to-do over Air Force One is never over. Let’s recap: In December of 2016, then-president-elect Trump said he’d cut more than a billion dollars from the cost of the presidential airplane fleet of two.
Since then, rather than having new planes built from scratch, the government determined to purchase two planes that Boeing had originally built for a Russian airline that had since gone out of business. Rather than scrap the planes, Boeing had them waiting in storage for the right buyer.
The next step would be a more budget-conscious retrofitting of essential modifications needed for the mobile command center of the President. But you typically can’t go ‘budget-conscious’ without making some cuts, and some members of Congress are concerned that more than just fat was trimmed.
Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton recently intimated that Congressional leaders and the military were not thrilled that the feature of in-flight refueling had been eliminated from the plane’s capabilities. Popular Mechanics says that no president has actually ever used this feature – not even George W Bush who “loitered over the Gulf of Mexico in Air Force One for eight hours after the 9/11 attacks.” Despite this, some say that it’s a crucial feature ensuring the country could continue to operate in crisis – even in nuclear war – by being able to maintain flight for up to several days.
The Air Force says the directive was not from them, rather, came from the White House. But what the Air Force will do to trim the budget is to look to source better deals on materials and also look at commercially available products for the plane’s interior.
Just think – the president of the United States might soon have the ability to recline his or her seat a luxurious two inches just like the rest of us.