Fairchild Air Force Base on short list of future home for aerial refueling tankers
Marks major step in ongoing joint efforts of Murray, Cantwell, McMorris Rodgers to ensure Pentagon recognizes benefits to basing new tankers at Fairchild
Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) announced that the U.S. Air Force has included Fairchild Air Force Base as a finalist in the strategic basing process determining which Air Force installation will receive the new KC-46A aerial refueling tankers. In December 2011 and May 2012, Murray, Cantwell, and McMorris Rodgers, led Washington delegation letters to U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, highlighting the benefits to basing the tankers in Spokane. Fairchild is currently home to KC-135 aerial refueling tankers and has invested over $400 million in base infrastructure over the last several decades.
"This is a big step in the right direction. Fairchild has been a historic part of our nation's aerial refueling effort and is well positioned to achieve global-level reach to the emerging Asia-Pacific Theater," said Senator Murray. "Today's decision by the Air Force speaks to a proud military community in Spokane that I am confident is well suited to host the KC-46A refueling tankers. It has been an honor fighting on behalf of Fairchild and ensuring that continued investments, including the new 14,000 foot runway, are made to support the aerial refueling mission. I look forward to the Air Force's final decision and would like to thank my colleagues Senator Cantwell and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers for their partnership in this endeavor."
"Today's announcement is a major step forward in our effort to bring the next generation refueling tankers to Fairchild," said Senator Cantwell. "Fairchild Air Force Base has been a valuable resource to the U.S. tanker refueling program for more than 50 years. Fairchild offers strong infrastructure, experienced military personnel, and strategic proximity to 15 refueling routes and the Pacific that make it the right choice for America's strategic interests in the 21st century. I applaud the work of Greater Spokane Incorporated and other local leaders, along with Patty, Cathy and the entire Washington Congressional delegation. We worked hard to get the KC-46A tanker built here in Washington state, and we'll continue to work to make sure the tankers are stationed here in the Inland Northwest."
"This is wonderful news for Fairchild and Eastern Washington," said Representative 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. We've 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. 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."
With help from Washington's Congressional delegation, Fairchild already possesses much of the needed capacity to accommodate the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker including their 14,000 foot runway, a new, state-of-the-art fitness center, and a new wing command headquarters to better integrate active-duty Airmen and Air National Guardsmen.