McMorris Rodgers Applauds Air Force Decision to Select Fairchild AFB as Candidate Base for First Home of KC-46A Tankers

“Wonderful News for Fairchild and Eastern Washington;
A Tribute to Community’s Leadership & Teamwork”

Washington, D.C. – January 10, 2012 – (RealEstateRama) — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) applauded the Air Force’s decision today naming Fairchild Air Force Base as a candidate base to serve as one of the first “main operating bases” (MOB) to host the next-generation KC-46A refueling tankers.  This is a huge win for Fairchild, which now moves on to the next round in the competition for these missions.  As a next step, the Air Mobility Command will begin conducting site surveys at Fairchild and the other candidate bases.  Next year, the Air Force will make its final basing decision for the first MOB.

“This is wonderful news for Fairchild and Eastern Washington,” said Rep. McMorris Rodgers.   “For over a decade, our community has worked together to make sure that Fairchild is the first home of the new tankers, and today’s decision is the best evidence yet that our hard work continues to pay off.

“I am grateful to the Air Force for making the right decision.  Since Day One, they have handled this process in a timely, thorough, and diligent manner.  Replacing the KC-135s is the number-one priority for the Air Force and the Department of Defense.

“I also want to acknowledge the entire Fairchild team for their outstanding service and leadership.  Today’s decision is a tribute to their dedication and outstanding work.

“We’ve also been blessed by tremendous community support – in the private and public sectors; by federal, state, and local leaders; and by officials in both parties – and there is no question that today’s decision couldn’t have happened without this sense of cooperation and shared pride in Fairchild’s achievements and potential for more achievements in the years ahead.

“The important community support that Fairchild established in 1942 when the City of Spokane and local residents donated land for the base is still alive today – with the community continuing to protect its servicemembers via the Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) and the annual Armed Services Torchlight Parade to salute our brave men and women and their families.  The community has remained committed to protecting and expanding its mission at Fairchild.  And for that, I am extremely proud.

“We have a lot to be proud of today.  Fairchild’s core strengths in capacity, location and association make it highly competitive for the home of the new tankers.  Its strategic location is unmatched, and its state-of-the-art infrastructure is unparalleled.  This includes a 14,000-foot runway, a new fitness center, brand new medical facilities and over $400 million in base infrastructure improvements over the last several decades.  Fairchild is also one of only five tanker bases with a ‘classic association’ – and the only tanker base with a classic association that is paired with an Air National Guard component.

“I am excited by today’s announcement and I look forward to continuing to work with the Air Force, the Fairchild team, and all of our community leaders to ensure that Fairchild is the first home of the KC-46A tankers.”

Since coming to Congress in 2005, Rep. McMorris Rodgers has worked to expand and strengthen the role of Fairchild – including making sure the new KC-46A tankers are based there.  For the past eight years, she has led an annual meeting between Spokane leaders and high-ranking Pentagon officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss efforts to bolster Fairchild, the largest employer in Eastern Washington.

On May 17, 2012, she led a letter with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, urging him to select Fairchild as a home for the KC-46A aerial refueling program.  The letter was signed by the entire Washington state Congressional delegation.

“Fairchild Air Force Base has been a historic part of our nation’s aerial refueling effort and is well positioned to achieve global-level reach, especially to the emerging Asia-Pacific theater,” the delegation wrote in the letter.  “The base is a strategic staging platform, supporting the rapid worldwide global mobility mission with access to a number of aerial refueling routes while minimizing transit fuel consumption. We believe the recently announced strategic basing criterion situates Fairchild Air Force Base in a very competitive position.”

The KC-46A is intended to replace the U.S. Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers which has been the primary refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps as well as allied nation coalition force aircraft.

To learn more about Rep. McMorris Rodgers’ work for Fairchild AFB, click here.

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