Continuing their efforts to advocate for Pease Air National Guard base, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today wrote to the new Air Force Chief of Staff to highlight Pease's unique advantages as a base for the new KC-46A tanker. The next generation tanker will replace the KC-135 tankers that the Guard currently flies out of Pease. The Air Force is expected to release its base candidate list before the end of the year.
"Based on the objective metrics the Air Force has selected, we believe Pease Air National Guard base represents the optimal location for the KC-46A tankers that will be assigned to the Air National Guard in 2017," the Senators wrote in a letter to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh. "We stand ready to work with you and provide whatever support is necessary to help ensure Pease continues to provide the best tanker support in the Air National Guard."
Shaheen and Ayotte, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have repeatedly praised the New Hampshire National Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing and have pushed for objective and transparent basing criteria to decide where to station the new tankers.
SHAHEEN-AYOTTE LETTER TO GENERAL WELSH:
Dear General Welsh:
We would like to congratulate you on your confirmation as the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. As members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, we look forward to working with you to ensure our Airmen have the resources they need to protect our country and remain the best air force in the world.
As you know, in the coming weeks, the Air Force plans to announce the KC-46A basing candidate list. Based on the metrics the Air Force has selected, we believe Pease Air National Guard Base is the optimal location and the 157th Air Refueling Wing is the ideal unit for the KC-46A tankers that will be assigned to an Air National Guard base in 2017.
The basing criteria places a premium on a base's location relative to operational and training refueling tracks, aircraft-related infrastructure, as well as the presence of a flight simulator and Total Force Enterprise. In each of these areas, Pease represents a clearly superior base for the KC-46A.
Pease enjoys an ideal location, only a few minutes flight time to the most important refueling tracks for U.S. based aircraft heading to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. In fact, Pease is within 12 minutes of Coronet routing to Europe and the Middle East. Pease's proximity to these critical refueling tracks saves time and money. Additionally, Pease is ideally suited to support the OPLAN 8010 mission.
In the area of existing infrastructure to support the KC-46A, Pease stands out. It has the largest fuel storage capability and largest Air National Guard aircraft parking ramp in the Northeast. In addition, Pease also has one of the longest runways in the Northeast and an absence of any environmental issues that would impede the basing and operation of the KC-46A. Furthermore, the base's close proximity to major ground transportation nodes and a deep water port would allow the Air Force to take full advantage of the KC-46A's cargo and aeromedical capabilities.
Pease is the only Air National Guard base east of the Mississippi River to have a full motion, full visibility simulator. With relatively minor modifications, this existing facility could easily accommodate a KC-46A simulator. Adapting an existing simulator facility like the one at Pease to accommodate the KC-46A would be much less expensive for the Air Force and the taxpayers than building a new facility at another Air National Guard base.
Pease also boasts a mature and well-performing Active Duty Association. While the Air Force may plan to develop associations at all KC-46A bases, it takes a significant amount of time to optimize the performance of an association. As a base with a long-standing and high-performing association, Pease offers significant advantages over bases that lack similar organizations. These bases would struggle to stand-up a new association while simultaneously trying to accept twelve new aircraft. As evidence of the advantages of a mature and well-performing Active Duty Association, the 157th Air Refueling Wing achieved the highest aircraft utilization rates in the Air National Guard in fiscal year 2011.
We understand that there may be several competitive potential Air National Guard locations for the KC-46A. However, based on the objective metrics the Air Force has selected, we believe Pease Air National Guard base represents the optimal location for the KC-46A tankers that will be assigned to the Air National Guard in 2017.
We stand ready to work with you and provide whatever support is necessary to help ensure Pease Air National Guard base--the ideal location for the KC-46A--continues to provide the best tanker support in the Air National Guard. Thank you for your continued service on behalf of our men and women in uniform and our nation.