Congress may pick a fight over an important feature left off new Air Force One planes

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."

Air Force One details and interior

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Air Force One details and interior
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Air Force One details and interior
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Air Force One is seen on the tarmac of the Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R), speaks briefly to reporters as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (R), speaks briefly to reporters as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania wave as they board Air Force One to travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave outside Air Force One before returning to Washington D.C. at Sigonella Air Force Base in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
The first presidential jet "Air Force One", Airpark, The Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington, USA
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump hold hands as they arrive to board Air Force One for travel to Rome from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media on board of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews before departure to Lynchburg, in Prince George's County, outside Washington, U.S., May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
The US embassy defence attache salutes as the Air Force One aircraft prepares to taxi with US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama on board at Palam Air Force station in the Indian capital New Delhi on January 27, 2015. President Barack Obama said the United States could be India's 'best partner' January 27 as he wrapped up a three-day visit to New Delhi by highlighting the shared values of the world's biggest democracies. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Air Force One landing
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks to reporters en route with President Donald Trump to a NATO summit in Brussels aboard Air Force One May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with reporters after departing Saudi Arabia en route to Israel with U.S. President Trump's delegation aboard Air Force One, May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and his son Barron board Air Force One to depart Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., on their way to Florida March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalist members of the travel pool accompanied by First Lady Melania Trump on board of the Air Force One during his trip to Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists, members of the travel pool, on board of Air Force One during his trip to Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Air Force One Presidential air transport flies over Mt Rushmore
US President Barack Obama walks to greet wellwishers before boarding Air Force One for departure from Forbes Field Airport in Topeka, Kansas, January 22, 2015. Obama returns to Washington after traveling on a two-day, two state trip to Idaho and Kansas following his State of the Union address. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, January 22, 2015. Obama returns from a 2-day, 2-state trip to Idaho and Kansas following his State of the Union address. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Air Force One with United States President Barack Obama aboard departs Joint Base Andrews Maryland, U.S., December 6, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
The interior of very first jet Air Force One, a Boeing 707, is seen at the The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington, September 6, 2012. (Photo by John Gress/Corbis via Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) holds his daily press briefing aboard Air Force One as it approaches Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump step from Air Force One as they arrive for a "Make America Great Again" rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway chats with repoters on board Air Force One as they wait for U.S. President Donald Trump to arrive for travel to Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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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.

"I think that was a decision that was not made by the Air Force, but made by the White House," Dunford said, "and I think it had to do with the fiscal constraints on the program."

Cotton, calling the decision strange, suggested lawmakers and military leaders might reverse it. "I think we might need to revisit that decision here on Capitol Hill," he said, according to Air Force Times.

The Air Force said in August that it wouldn't mandate the new planes have in-flight refueling systems, and officials have said adding that capability would add unneeded costs.

RELATED: A look at President Trump's Air Force One trips

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A look at President Trump's Air Force One trips
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A look at President Trump's Air Force One trips
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One for travel to Philadelphia from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump waves to onlookers as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to journalists on board of Air Force One on a trip to Palm Beach, Florida from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One upon his departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., February 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with reporters aboard Air Force One on his way to a "Make America Great Again" rally at Orlando Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to board Air Force One to depart Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, U.S. March 2, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he steps from Air Force One with his son Barron (C) and wife Melania upon their arrival in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., March 17, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he boards Air Force One upon departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump returns a salute as he steps from Marine One to board Air Force One as he departs Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., April 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for travel to Atlanta from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S, April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., before traveling to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., April 29, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at JFK International Airport in New York, U.S. May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump returns from a weekend at his New Jersey golf estate home via Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media on board of Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., before departure to Lynchburg, Virginia, May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump steps from Air Force One in Groton, Connecticut U.S., May 17 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R) and his wife Melania arrive to board Air Force One for his first international trip as president, including stops in Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels and at the G7 summit in Sicily, from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., May 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump board Air Force One to depart for Israel from King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod near Tel Aviv, Israel May 22, 2017. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump wave before boarding Air Force One at Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Alberto Lingria FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Sigonella Air Force Base at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy May 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, U.S., before traveling to Bedminister, New Jersey for the weekend, June 9, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump walk toward Air Force One as they depart Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he with first lady Melania Trump and their son Barron board Air force One to depart Washington at Joint Base Andrews Maryland, U.S., to spend a weekend at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, June 30, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air force One at Morristown municipal airport, New Jersey, U.S., en route back to Washington after a weekend at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump board Air Force One for their trip to Germany, at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Orly airport near Paris, France, July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald steps from Air Force One upon his arrival in Newark, New Jersey, U.S. to spend the weekend in Bedminster July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and first lady Melania Trump arrive to board Air Force One for travel to Ohio from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, New York, U.S. July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. July 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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But while the 747-8 models can fly almost 1,800 nautical miles more than the jets they will replace without refueling, according to Defense One — and even though presidents have never used in-flight refueling on the current planes — Dunford said the need to make ground stops for refueling, even in the case of emergency, "will certainly be a limiting factor, and we'll have to plan accordingly."

The Air Force plans to start modifying the 747s in 2019 and have them enter service in 2024. By that time, the two Boeing 747-200-based VC-25A aircraft that serve as Air Force One when the president is aboard will be 34 years old.

The Boeing 747-8 platform was selected as the next presidential aircraft in January 2015. The two aircraft acquired for the program were built by Boeing for a Russian airline that went bankrupt before it could take delivery. The company then held on to the planes until a new buyer could be found. The Air Force has not disclosed how much it paid for them.

air force oneThe White House

Air Force One acts as a mobile national command center, and expected modifications include a specialized communications system, electrical upgrades, a medical facility, and a self-defense system. What requirements will be put on the planes and how much they will cost have been the subject of wrangling between the Pentagon and contractors for months.

The Air Force is looking to cut costs by striking better deals on the materials going into the planes. A number of the plane's interior furnishings will be commercially available products.

"From this point forward, any additional cost savings will arise from capitalizing on acquisition process opportunities," Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Defense One this month.

Boeing has already gotten $170 million in development funding to study the future Air Force One's technical requirements. Earlier this month, the Air Force awarded the company another contract worth a little less than $600 million to begin the preliminary design of the future Air Force Ones.

"Those [cost-saving] opportunities identified will be reviewed to ensure mission capabilities are not degraded," the Air Force said at the time, according to Defense News. "The entire preliminary design effort will keep a focus on affordability."

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