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Air Force not buying $24M refrigerators for Air Force One

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By Rebecca Kheel, Tha Hill

The Air Force is not buying two $24 million refrigerators for Air Force One, the service recently told a congressman.

On Monday, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) released a letter from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson saying the Air Force and White House Military Office decided to cancel the purchase out of "prudent fiscal sense."

"While the VC-25A chiller replacement requirement still exists, the progress on the VC-25B program weighed against the cost of the chiller effort makes termination the most prudent fiscal sense for the government," Wilson wrote to Courtney in a letter dated May 29. "The Air Force has notified Boeing of the government's intention to cancel the subject contract."

Boeing was awarded a $23.7 million contract to replace two of the five refrigerators aboard Air Force One. The refrigerators have been on the plane since it went into service in 1990.

The coolers on the presidential aircraft need to have the capacity to store 3,000 meals onboard.

Though the refrigerators have unique requirements, the high price tag raised eyebrows, particularly as President Trump has railed against excessive defense contracts.

Prior to taking office, Trump slammed the cost of building two new Air Force One planes, tweeting the Pentagon should "cancel order!"

The new Air Force One planes are expected to be ready in 2024.

In her letter, Wilson said that steps can be taken to ensure "food security" until the new aircraft are ready.

"While not optimal, mitigation options exist to ensure food security until new aircraft are delivered," she wrote.

Courtney praised the Air Force for canceling the refrigerator contract.

"Clearly, the Air Force is making the right decision cancel the previously announced sole-source contract and hit restart on this process," he said in a 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."

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