U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) today announced that New Hampshire's Pease Air National Guard base is one of only five Air National Guard installations selected for the Air Force's candidate base list for the new KC-46A air refueling tanker. This important announcement represents a significant step in the process of determining where the new tankers will be based. Shaheen and Ayotte, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have worked closely together to advocate for Pease during the Air Force's candidate evaluation process.
"This is welcome news for Pease and the 157th Air Refueling Wing, which provides the best tanker support in the Air National Guard," said Shaheen and Ayotte in a joint statement. "As the Air Force's evaluation process moves forward, Pease continues to be well-positioned to receive the new tanker."
The Air Force will conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base to assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower. Once the site surveys are complete, the Air Force will select preferred and reasonable alternative locations and begin an Environmental Impact Analysis Process in the spring of 2013.
In meetings with Air Force officials over the past year, Shaheen and Ayotte have repeatedly praised the New Hampshire National Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing and highlighted Pease's unique advantages as an ideal location to base the KC-46A. In a recent letter to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III, the Senators said Pease represented the optimal location for the next generation tanker, which will replace the KC-135 tankers that the Guard currently flies out of Pease. The selected Air National Guard base will receive aircraft beginning in fiscal year 2018.