NEW DETAILS: Fairchild Named Alternative Base To Fly New Air For - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

NEW DETAILS: Fairchild Named Alternative Base To Fly New Air Force Tanker

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. –  Air Force officials announced Wednesday that Fairchild Air Force Base and Grand Forks AFB, N.D. were selected as the reasonable alternative main operating bases (MOB 1) for the KC-46A air refueling tanker.

McConnell AFB, Kan., was selected as the preferred active duty-led KC-46A main operating base. Altus AFB, Okla., was announced as the preferred alternative for the KC-46A formal training unit (FTU).

The preferred alternative for the first Air National Guard KC-46A main operating base (MOB 2) is Pease Air Guard Station, N.H; Forbes AGS, Kan; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J; Pittsburgh IAP AGS, Pa., and Rickenbacker AGS, Ohio, are reasonable alternatives.

"Our KC-135s are critical to fueling the fight and fueling freedom, now and for the foreseeable future" said 92nd Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Brian Newberry. "While the KC-46A is an important step in recapitalizing the tanker fleet, we will continue to perform our critical mission of worldwide aerial refueling with the venerable KC-135."

The Air Force is expected to announce the final basing decision in spring 2014, as they evaluate the preferred alternative, McConnell, and the reasonable alternatives of Fairchild and Grand Forks.

During detailed, on-the-ground-site surveys of each candidate base, the major commands evaluated the bases against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower.

"The Air Force chose these locations using operational analysis, results of site surveys, and military judgment factors," said Timothy Bridges, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations.

McConnell AFB was selected as the preferred alternative for the KC-46A MOB 1 because it is located in a region of high air refueling receiver demand. McConnell AFB already has 44 KC-135 refueling aircraft assigned; replacing those aircraft with 36 KC-46A aircraft will require the lowest manpower adjustments of the candidate installations.

The site survey teams also developed cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base. The results of the surveys were briefed to the Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, who selected the preferred and reasonable alternatives for this mission.

"The Air Force began the Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP) in April 2013," Bridges said. "We look forward to the inputs provided from the communities as we proceed through the environmental impact analysis."

Reasonable alternatives will continue to be evaluated during the EIAP. Subsequent KC-46 decisions will use similar criteria; therefore, candidate installations will likely compete well for future Continental United States (CONUS) basing decisions.

 Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. explained the 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are just the first phase of a 3-phase effort to replace more than 400 KC-135 and 59 KC-10 aircraft. The first phase of tanker recapitalization will complete deliveries in FY 2028. He went on to emphasize the importance of continuing KC-135 modernization efforts.

"Throughout tanker recapitalization, the Air Force is committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander requirements," said Welsh.

The Air Force plans to base KC-46A at up to 10 locations. Within the Continental United States, there will be up to two active duty-led wings, up to four Air National Guard-led wings, and up to two Air Force Reserve-led wings. Additionally, the Air Force intends to base the KC-46A at two OCONUS locations. Future decisions will be made 3 years prior to aircraft delivery.

"If indeed Fairchild is chosen to fly the KC-46A in the future, we will do so with the same level of partnership with the 141st Washington Air National Guard Refueling Wing and dedication our Airmen continuously provide," Newberry said.

The FTU and MOB 1 will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal year 2016. MOB 2 will receive aircraft in fiscal year 2018.

A new tanker has been the number one acquisition priority for the Air Force for several years. The KC-46A will be built by the Boeing Company, headquartered in Washington State.

 PREVIOUS STORY:

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Officials in Washington are expressing disappointment that Fairchild Air Force base was not chosen as the first home of the Air Force's new aerial refueling tankers.
    
Members of the Kansas congressional delegation announced Wednesday that McConnell Air Force Base in Topeka, Kan., was chosen as the first base to receive the new Boeing-built KC-46A tankers.
    
Fairchild, the Spokane area's largest single employer, remains a candidate to receive new tankers later.
    
The new aircraft will replace the aging KC-135 fleet flown by crews, including those at Fairchild, for the past 50 years. The Air Force will base 36 of the new aircraft at McConnell starting in 2016.
    
Fairchild was finalist for the job, along with bases in North Dakota and Oklahoma.

PREVIOUS STORY:

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Wichita's McConnell Air Force Base has been selected to be the main operating base for the Air Force's new KC-46A air refueling tanker.
    
Members of the Kansas congressional delegation issued a joint statement Wednesday announcing the Air Force decision. The aircraft will replace the aging KC-135 fleet flown by crews for the past 50 years.
    
According to the delegation, the Air Force will base 36 of the new aircraft at McConnell starting in 2016. It also will be investing $192 million in upgrades to the base.
    
McConnell was chosen over bases in North Dakota, Oklahoma and Washington.
    
Forbes Field in Topeka was not selected as a site for the Air National Guard base but the delegation said the Topeka location would not be precluded from future refueling assignments.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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