US President-elect Donald Trump called for cancelling the order of Air Force One from Boeing because of its “ridiculous” pricing.
“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than USD 4 billion. Cancel order!” Trump said in a tweet.
Trump’s move comes as a surprise as Boeing has built the plane for every US President since Franklin Roosevelt.
Early this year in January, the US Air Force placed a contract with Boeing for replacing the current Air Force One Plane with a new Boeing 747.
“I think Boeing is doing a little bit of a number. We want Boeing to make a lot of money, but not that much money,” the president-elect told reporters at Trump Tower, his Manhattan headquarters.
Boeing too issued a statement that said, “We are currently under contract for USD 170 million to help determine the capabilities of these complex military aircraft that serve the unique requirements of the president of the United States…We look forward to working with the US Air Force on subsequent phases of the program allowing us to deliver the best planes for the president at the best value for the American taxpayer.”
The Trump transition team said that the government was keen on accountability on the taxpayers’ money.
“The president-elect was making here was that a USD 4 billion price tag is a very big number. I think taxpayers want to make sure that we’re seeing absolute accountability and that the government is doing the best to drive costs down…So we’re going to look for those opportunities to do so at every stretch. Befor the exact details, we can get into that more after the president-elect is sworn in on January 20,” Jason Miller, the communicator director of the Trump Transition Team said.
Meanwhile, Trump also formally nominated the controversial James Mattis, a retired 4-star Marine Corps general as the Defence Secretary. Mattis will replace Ashton Carter.
66-year-old Mattis, who memorably said “it’s fun to shoot some people”, would add to a cabinet of national security super-hawks and signal a return to a more aggressive defence of American interests abroad.
“General Mattis is the living embodiment of the Marine Corps motto, ‘Semper Fidelis,’ always faithful, and the American people are fortunate that a man of his character and integrity will now be the civilian leader atop the Department of Defense. Under his leadership, we will rebuild our military and alliances, destroy terrorists and face our enemies head on, and make America safe again,” Trump said.
Before retiring in 2013, Mattis was the Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), directing military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines across the Middle East.
As a lieutenant colonel, Mattis commanded an assault battalion breaching the Iraqi minefields in Operation Desert Storm.
The retired four-star general, who was known as “Mad Dog,” was lauded for his leadership of Marines in the 2004 Battle of Falluja in Iraq – one of the bloodiest of the war. But he also attracted controversy in 2005 when he said “it’s fun to shoot some people” while addressing service members in San Diego.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Mattis led the Special Operation Forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Mattis would require a waiver from Congress to be eligible for the post, since a retired officer is needed to be out of uniform for at least seven years before taking control of the Pentagon responsibilities. But with Republicans in control in Capitol Hill, the waiver would likely be a formality to obtain.
(With inputs from PTI)