Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell, and Gov. Christine Gregoire have launched a campaign to ensure that Fairchild Air Force Base becomes home to the next generation of aerial refueling tankers. As part of that campaign, Washington State's full congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley to outline the exceptional assets Fairchild has to offer the new fleet. The letter was sent in conjunction with efforts by Washington state legislative leaders who also voiced their support for tanker placement at Fairchild.
"Fairchild Air Force Base has been a historic part of our nation's aerial refueling effort and is well suited to achieve global-level reach to the emerging Asia-Pacific theater," the delegation members wrote."Fairchild provides an exceptional quality of life for its airmen and the local community has embraced the base. The Spokane community has a rich history with the military and embraces military personnel, their families, and retirees through programs and events that have drawn numerous military recognitions awarded to the community."
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.
The full text of the letter follows:
Michael B. Donley
Secretary of the Air Force
1690 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330
Dear Secretary Donley,
On behalf of the State of Washington, we would like to thank you for the service and sacrifice made by the men and women and their families of the United States Air Force on behalf of our nation. It is with that gratitude that we write to you today in support of the KC-46A aerial refueling program and the Air Force's strategic basing process. As you know, the KC-46A will play a critical role in the United States' global strategy. Mission successes will rely heavily on the strategic basing determination process and the effective and efficient use of these aircraft.
Fairchild Air Force Base has been a historic part of our nation's aerial refueling effort and is well suited to achieve global-level reach to the emerging Asia-Pacific theater. 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.
Fairchild is also home to a classic association of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing with the Air National Guard 141st Air Refueling Wing. The association marries the best the active duty and reserve component have to offer, providing for world-class aerial refueling, airlift and aeromedical evacuation capabilities while fostering innovation and efficiency in operation. Together, the integrated ARWs deliver a full spectrum of capability with one of the largest, most experienced organizations in the Air Force today.
The Air Force continues to recognize Fairchild's assets and has invested over $400 million in base infrastructure over the last several decades. Accommodating the new KC-46A will require a modest investment in infrastructure as the Air Force has already improved the 14,000 foot runway and has plans to build a new Wing Headquarters and improved SERE facilities.
Fairchild provides an exceptional quality of life for its airmen and the local community has embraced the base. It is a strongly desired duty station and is the second-most requested Air Force assignment in the United States. There are also 1000 Air Guard members who reside in the community with additional retirees who choose Spokane as their home following their military careers.
The Spokane community has a rich history with the military and embraces military personnel, their families, and retirees through programs and events that have drawn numerous military recognitions awarded to the community.
The Spokane community has developed a white paper by "Forward Fairchild," a coalition of Spokane businesses and community advocated that further detail the benefits associated with Fairchild Air Force Base, the Spokane community and Washington State. We have enclosed it for your review.
We look forward to your consideration of Fairchild Air Force Base as a home for the new tanker fleet.
U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
U.S. Representative Jay Inslee
U.S. Representative Rick Larsen
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler
U.S. Representative Doc Hastings
U.S. Representative Norm Dicks
U.S. Representative Jim McDermott
U.S. Representative Dave Reichert
U.S. Representative Adam Smith