The Air Force is expected to announce later today that Fairchild Air Force Base (AFB) in Washington State was not selected as the preferred site for the first Main Operating Base for the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement regarding the expected announcement:
"I respect and appreciate how the Air Force has conducted this process, but it is disappointing that Fairchild Air Force Base was not chosen as the Air Force's preferred host for KC-46A," Smith said. "I still believe that Fairchild's capacity and accommodations for the tanker, strategic location, tremendous community support, and proven track record of serving our nation's aerial refueling effort with the KC-135 make the base an ideal home for the next generation of tankers. The Washington Congressional delegation has and will continue to work together to promote Fairchild's capacity to host future tankers."
On three occasions throughout the basing decision process, Congressman Smith signed a letter with local Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and the rest of the Washington State Congressional Delegation to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, encouraging the Air Force to base KC-46A at Fairchild. The letters detailed Fairchild's capacity to accommodate the tanker and its success with previous aerial refueling efforts. The Air Force conducted site surveys of 54 candidate installations before the announcement of the preferred basing decision today. Out of the 54 bases that were surveyed through this process, Fairchild will be named one of only two reasonable alternatives. McConnell AFB will be selected as the preferred first Main Operating Base. The Air Force must now conduct the necessary environmental analysis before making a final basing decision in Spring 2014.