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Air Force One

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Lockheed VC-121E Super Constellation used by President Eisenhower. USAF Museum – U.S. Air Force photo 050322-F-1234P-024 [1], Public Domain.

Is Air Force One a plane that needs to fly long distances?

The US Air Force confirmed in early August that it would buy two Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental airliners and convert them to serve as future Air Force One planes for US presidents.

The decision to buy planes that were already built rather than custom-made aircraft stemmed from President Donald Trump’s push to cut costs.

Trump publicly criticized the Boeing-led program’s cost in December.

Earlier this year, Trump said he would be able to cut a billion dollars from the $4.2 billion Presidential Airlift Recapitalization program, though the White House later said those savings would only amount to “millions.”

Now the exclusion of a key feature to keep expenses down may attract objections from Congress.

“Strangely to me, the Air Force has just announced that the next version of Air Force One will not have in-flight refueling capability. What do you make of that?” Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton asked Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford on Tuesday, during a hearing to confirm Dunford’s reappointment to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The problem here is generated by Trump’s flat idiocy. The President doesn’t understand why things like sophisticated airplanes cost a lot of money, and he declared that the new Air Force One was too expensive. Of course, sophisticated airplanes DO cost a lot of money, and the USAF is trying to resolve the problem by refraining from equipping the Presidential aircraft with refueling capabilities. In-flight refueling is, literally, one of the most important things that a Presidential aircraft can have, apart from, say, engines and wings. Consequently, even if the USAF buys the two aircraft in their current condition, it will need to retrofit them, at tremendous expense, at some future point with inflight-refueling capability. This expense will, unsurprisingly, run considerably greater than just building it into the damn planes in the first place.

There is no limit to the amount of taxpayer money you can waste in service of preventing the waste of taxpayer money.

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