U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) announced today that the U.S. Air Force has selected Pease Air National Guard Base -- home to the 157th Air Refueling Wing -- as the top Air National Guard base to receive the new KC-46A tanker. Pending results of an environmental impact study, Pease will be the first Air National Guard unit to receive the next generation tanker.
"This is great news for Pease and the dedicated members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing," said Shaheen and Ayotte, who serve as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. "We're thrilled that the Air Force recognizes Pease's many strategic advantages as well as the 157th's exceptional record of service. We're confident that Pease will continue to provide the best air refueling support in the Air Force for decades to come."
Colonel Paul Hutchinson, Commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, said, "I want to specifically thank Senators Ayotte and Shaheen for their steadfast support to bring these new aircraft and jobs to our community, and the strong community support we receive from the citizens of New Hampshire. It is an exciting time at Pease Air National Guard Base and we look forward to providing the most cost efficient, flexible, rapid global mobility capability to our country."
"When the final decision is made in the spring of 2014 we expect additional 100 or more full time jobs at Pease representing approximately 7 million dollars in additional direct payroll into the seacoast economy and approximately 45 million dollars in military construction contracts over the next several years," Colonel Hutchinson added.
"The KC-46 represents an improvement in all respects over the venerable KC-135 tanker which has been the cornerstone of global reach and global power. Quieter, more fuel efficient, and adaptable to multiple missions, it will provide the best value to our taxpayers," said Major General Bill Reddel, Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard. "Basing the KC-46 at Pease Air National Guard Base will leverage the advantages and skill sets of the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force to defend our nation anywhere in the world."
Shaheen and Ayotte have worked together over the past year and a half to highlight Pease's unique advantages and the impressive record of the New Hampshire Air National Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing to Air Force officials. The criteria cited in today's Air Force announcement closely reflect the advantages that both Senators have reiterated to Pentagon officials for over a year and a half -- including Pease's successful existing active-duty association, low active duty manpower requirements, and strategic location in a region of high air refueling receiver demand. Pease successfully competed for the new tanker against 82 other installations and four other finalists.
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 assess its competitiveness to receive the new tanker. The Air Force will now begin an Environmental Impact Analysis of the base, and, pending a successful outcome, Pease is slated to receive 12 aircraft beginning in fiscal year 2018.