WASHINGTON – The Air Force is defending plans underway for pricey luxury quarters that can be constructed and inserted into military jetliners, saying they are necessary for official travel for both military and civilian leaders, and end up saving costs in the long run.
The Washington Post reported Friday that at least four top generals have made tweaks like changing the color of leather furniture and wooden floor panels, adding cost to the price tag of the program, which has met with friction on Capitol Hill.
The program will build living quarters pods as well as pallets holding chairs that could be inserted into planes for the military's top brass and civilian leaders to fly in comfort. Photos obtained by the Post of scale models show wide and high-backed swivel chairs and wood-paneled living and sleeping quarters.
Current plans are for three pods and four pallets. Each insertable pod also would feature a 37-inch flat-screen TV, a full-length mirror, a couch and stereo equipment.
The Post also reported that the military at points has sought as much as $16.2 million targeted for counterterror activities, although one instance in which officials decided to divert money ended in a reversal: The Air Force bucked a decision last year to tap a counterterror fund for $331,000 last year to cover a budget shortfall for the pod development.
The Air Force on Friday admitted they initially sought money labeled as funding for the Global War on Terror, but since Congress rejected the idea, they'll find other areas of the budget to fund the project.
Air Force spokeswoman Vicki Stein told FOX News that a total of $3.83 million has been allocated for the four pallets and one prototype capsule; and they are currently seeking money for two more capsules, each of which would cost about $1.9 million. None has been completed, but the prototype pod is under development.
Officials point out that the pods remove the need for flying and building additional planes, and that it is provides a less obvious method of transporting VIPs into the battle theater. The Air Force also points out that these devices will be used not only for Air Force leadership, but for all high-ranking service members and even congressional delegations.
FOX News' Justin Fishel contributed to this report.