Statement from Fairchild AFB regarding Airbus contract - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Statement from Fairchild AFB regarding Airbus contract

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Our primary mission at Fairchild is to fly tankers, not negotiate the contracts to acquire them -- commenting on the economics of the KC-45A contract is beyond our scope.  As operators, we're very interested in bringing a new tanker into the fleet soon.  Tanker recapitalization is a long-term program that will push remaining KC-135s to an extreme age.  Some tankers will be nearly 80 years old before they are replaced. We look forward to the KC-45A's fielding on time and within budget.

The urgent need to replace our aging tankers is a national security issue.  The civilian equivalent of the KC-135, the Boeing 707, ceased production 30 years ago, and was retired by US commercial carriers almost 25 years ago. The problems we have in maintaining older aircraft will only grow as these aircraft age.

Aerial refueling gives the United States the ability to strike a target anywhere in the world when we need to, or reach out with an open hand and provide humanitarian aid.  The KC-45A will have the added capability to carry cargo and passengers, which help alleviate the heavy stress brought by high demand on our airlift fleet.  The modernized tanker will be equipped with defensive system capabilities, protecting our aircrews and allowing them to operate closer to the fight, further reducing transit time and fuel required.

This is America's tanker - it will be flown by American Airmen, with a big American flag on its tail - and it will save American lives.  We operate the aircraft, not negotiate the contracts that bring them into the fleet.  We also can't speculate on the possible effects of a potential contract protest.

The first KC-135 reached age 50 in 2006.  It will take over three decades to recapitalize the entire Eisenhower-era KC-135 fleet.  By the time the last KC-135 is retired under this plan, it will be 80 years old.  The tanker is a critical force multiplier and absolutely essential to the way this nation fights its wars, and provides humanitarian support around the globe.

The KC-45A will be a great asset to the nation, not only as a tanker, but as a means to augment the airlift fleet, provide aeromedical evacuation, and transport passengers.  The KC-45A will be able to carry more fuel, more cargo, more passengers, and be able to refuel both receptacle and probe-equipped receivers on every mission.  It will be better able to operate in hostile airspace, having defensive systems, provisions for multi-point refueling, real-time information in the cockpit, and be able to support special and night operations with Night Vision Imaging System compatible lighting.

Again, we look forward to the KC-45A's fielding on time and within budget.
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