Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statement after the United States Air Force announced today the selection of Fairchild Air Force Base as a candidate base at which to locate its new aerial refueling tanker, the KC-46A:
“Today’s announcement affirms that Fairchild Air Force Base is one of the few bases with the capacity and expertise necessary to serve as the home for the next generation aerial refueling tanker,” said McMorris Rodgers. “The Air Force should choose Fairchild as the preferred alternative among the remaining candidate bases because of its visionary leadership, strategic location, mission expertise, and community support. I intend to work with my Washington State colleagues and others to continue making that case to the Air Force as vigorously as possible.”
Note: McMorris Rodgers has been intimately involved in the ongoing conversations surrounding the strategic basing process for the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker since its beginning more than four years ago, including delegation letters and multiple meetings with Pentagon officials – most recently on April 15 at the Pentagon with a delegation from Greater Spokane Incorporated. She also met with USAF Assistant Secretary Ballentine about Fairchild and the tankers on March 1. On March 3, she met with General Carlton Everhart, Commander of USAF’s Air Mobility Command, to make the pitch for Fairchild receiving the tankers. Going forward, site survey teams will visit each base sometime this summer to conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base. The reviews will assess each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower. Additionally, they will develop cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base. The information will then be presented to the Secretary of the Air Force for a decision on a preferred and reasonable alternatives, tentatively by the end of this year.