In a letter to the recently appointed Director of the Air National Guard, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) along with Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) and Annie Kuster (NH-2) expressed continued support for Pease Air National Guard Base and the 157th Air Refueling Wing to receive the KC-46A tanker.
In January, the Air Force announced that Pease was one of five Air National Guard finalists to receive the KC-46A, which will replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers. Air Force officials visited Pease in February to begin assessing its competitiveness to receive the new tanker.
"We believe Pease's strategic location, low operating costs, high aircraft utilization rates, as well as its mature active duty association, make it the ideal, cost-effective Air National Guard solution for the KC-46A," the letter said.
The Air Force is conducting 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. In the spring of 2013, the Air Force will select preferred and reasonable alternative locations and begin an Environmental Impact Analysis Process. The selected Air National Guard base will receive aircraft beginning in fiscal year 2018.
Senators Shaheen and Ayotte serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Shea-Porter serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
DELEGATION LETTER TO GENERAL CLARKE:
March 6, 2013
Lieutenant General Stanley E. Clarke III
Director, Air National Guard
Dear General Clarke:
First, congratulations on your selection as the Director of the Air National Guard and thank you for your distinguished service to this great nation. We look forward to working with the National Guard as we seek cost effective solutions to our nation's security requirements.
As the Air Force evaluates final candidate bases for the KC-46A, we would like to express our strong and continued support for Pease Air National Guard Base (ANGB) and the 157th Air Refueling Wing. We believe Pease's strategic location, low operating costs, high aircraft utilization rates, as well as its mature active duty association, make it the ideal, cost effective Air National Guard solution for the KC-46A.
Strategically located only 12 minutes from the most important refueling and Coronet fighter tracks for U.S.-based aircraft heading to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, Pease can efficiently support the entire range of training and operational missions. In fact, flying operational and Coronet missions with the KC-46A from Pease would save nearly $17 million in lifecycle costs over ten years compared to the next closest candidate. Pease also maintains the lowest aircraft maintenance costs per flying hour and second lowest base-wide operating costs per flying hour amongst the other candidate bases. Proximity to these critical refueling tracks saves time and money, ensuring an outstanding value for the Air Force.
Pease ANGB has developed a mature, well-performing active duty association that seamlessly integrates with the reserve component to form a highly functional unit, capable of meeting the demands of the active component and the needs of the Air National Guard. It would be a high risk proposition for other bases to start a new association while engaging in a major aircraft conversion in a time of constrained resources. Pease can accommodate the additional active duty personnel for the KC-46A with minimal additional cost and, with the current manning model for the KC-46A, it would have a minimal impact on military manning. As a base with a long-standing and high-performing association, Pease offers substantial advantages over bases that would require years to learn the lessons and develop the practices that Pease has already mastered. While the Air Force may plan to develop associations at all KC-46A bases, the time and resources required to optimize an association's performance should not be underestimated.
The 157th Air Refueling Wing's utilization rate is a testament to the unit's timely and efficient operations, made possible by Pease's location, facilities, and established active duty association. Over the past two years, through supporting operations in Afghanistan, Libya, and Iraq, as well as Coronet missions, Pease has achieved the highest aircraft utilization rate in the Air National Guard with over 9,000 operational hours--15 to 30 percent more than other Air National Guard KC-135 units. Also, during fiscal year 2012, Pease's active associate averaged over 140 days per person per year on temporary duty assignments, the highest among all active duty and associate KC-135 air refueling wings and 12 percent greater than their closest peer.
We understand that there are several potential Air National Guard locations for the KC-46A. However, Pease's high utilization rates, low maintenance costs, mature active association, and optimal strategic location for supporting EUCOM, NORTHCOM, AFRICOM, and CENTCOM, make it the most cost efficient, lowest risk solution for the KC-46A.
Thank you for your service to our country. We look forward to working with you to ensure that our nation employs our defense resources in the most effective and cost-efficient manner possible.