"Great News for Fairchild Air Force Base; Replacing Aging Tanker Fleet is Critical to National Security"
Spokane, WA – Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) released the following statement today after the Air Force selected Boeing to build its new fleet of aerial refueling tankers – a major victory for Fairchild Air Force Base, the Washington State economy, and U.S. national security: "Like everyone in our community, I am thrilled that Boeing was chosen to bring America’s tankers into the twenty-first century. Boeing was the smart choice for taxpayers for building the tankers quickly and efficiently, right here in the U.S. Everyone knows that the employees at the Boeing facilities in Everett, Washington and Wichita, Kansas put pride, integrity and professionalism into every plane they build. It will be great seeing those planes fly over Fairchild Air Force Base."
Rep. McMorris Rodgers represents Fairchild AFB, the largest employer in the Spokane area. Since coming to Congress in 2005, she has worked to expand and strengthen the role of Fairchild – including making sure that the next generation of air refueling tankers is based there.
"Right now, the men and women at Fairchild are flying air refueling tankers that are more than 50 years old," said Rep. McMorris Rodgers. "That is not consistent with our goal of having a modern Air Force using state-of-the-art technology. Today’s decision allows us to move forward – and not a moment too soon."
As the Spokesman-Review recently reported, "The tankers are the one aircraft the military cannot go to war without. They allow jet fighters, supply planes and other aircraft to cover long distances, crucial with fewer overseas bases and operations far from the United States in places like Iraq and Afghanistan…Today, the Air Force is struggling to keep them in flying shape." The tanker competition began in 2001 and has been repeatedly delayed. "Any further steps to delay the process should be resisted," said Rep. McMorris Rodgers.
On April 29, 2010, Rep. McMorris Rodgers led a delegation of Spokane leaders to the Pentagon to meet with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and other high-ranking military officials to discuss the tanker and efforts to bolster Fairchild AFB.
Boeing estimates that the tanker contract will generate 50,000 direct and indirect jobs in the United States.