Military Maintains a Fleet of Jets for Lawmakers, Other VIPs

Posted August 6, 2009 at 1:21pm

The military maintains about 300 executive aircraft for ferrying Members of Congress, top government officials, military brass and other dignitaries, according to Congressional Research Service data.In a study done for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) late last year, the CRS estimated that the military maintains about 374 airplanes in “Operational Support Airlift,— which provide mostly VIP transportation service. Of those, 295 are small executive aircraft, including 25 Gulfstreams, 56 Learjets and 40 Cessnas — all jets —and 155 Beechcraft turboprop planes.Roll Call reported Wednesday that the Defense spending bill passed by the House in July included $200 million for three top-of-the-line Gulfstream jets for the Air Force to ferry VIPs, including Members of Congress. The Air Force had requested only one of the planes.The report unleashed a stream of criticism from commentators, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) vowed to try to kill the funding in the Senate. “This just makes no sense. Talk about the wrong message at the wrong time,— McCaskill said in a statement Thursday. “While American families are tightening their belts, there is no way we should be buying extra executive jets. No wonder so many people think we don’t get it.—