Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) released the following statement today after the Air Force named Fairchild Air Force Base as a "reasonable alternate base" to serve as the first "main operating base" (MOB) to host the new KC-46A refueling tankers.
"The Air Force has a contract with Boeing to build 179 KC-46A refueling tankers. It is important to remember that this is only the first installment of 36 tankers. While it was our hope that Fairchild would be the preferred base to host the next-generation refueling tankers, today's announcement included recognition that Fairchild is a vibrant and busy base, and will compete well for new tankers. As the Air Force continues to base KC-46A refueling tankers at additional installations over the next few years, I am confident that Fairchild will compete very well. It is a great base and will have a valuable mission moving forward."
"For over a decade, our community has worked together to let the Air Force know we believe Fairchild is the ideal location. I want to thank our community leaders -- civilian and military; public sector and private sector; and officials in both parties -- for their commitment and teamwork. We have a lot to be proud of, and our efforts for Fairchild will continue."
As part of being named a reasonable alternate base for the first MOB, the Air Force is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for Fairchild and next year, the Air Force will make its final basing decision.
"I look forward to continuing to work with the Air Force, our Fairchild leaders, and all of our community leaders to ensure that Fairchild is a future home of the KC-46A refueling tankers."
For the past nine years, Rep. McMorris Rodgers has led an annual meeting between Spokane leaders and high-ranking Pentagon officials in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to bolster Fairchild, the largest employer in Eastern Washington.
On April 17, 2013, she led a letter with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, advocating for Fairchild to become the first home for the KC-46A refueling tankers. The letter was signed by the entire Washington state Congressional delegation.
The KC-46A refueling tanker 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 refueling tanker will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps as well as allied nation coalition force aircraft.