|Preparing for the KC-46A Tanker Announcement|
|Preparing for the KC-46A Tanker Announcement|
July 13, 2012 - Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) is positioning our community and Fairchild Air Force Base to be among the final bases considered to receive the new KC-46A tankers. The U.S. Air Force is expected to narrow down final bases by the end of the summer.
As part of Fairchild First, a movement to bring the KC-46A tankers to Fairchild, GSI has studied the criteria and continues to advocate for the base to be the first location of the new tankers. The entire Washington federal delegation, Governor Gregoire and state legislative leaders, and the Northeast Mayors Association have all sent letters to the U.S. Air Force this year.
"We've communicated with leaders of the Air Force, making the case for Fairchild Air Force Base to be the home of the new tankers," said Rich Hadley, President and CEO of GSI. "We've outlined Fairchild's mission capacity, environment and cost, and believe the base is positioned nicely."
We believe Fairchild is an advantageous location for the KC-46A tankers for many reasons. Fairchild's location serves as a bridge to the Asian-Pacific region. The base is also within 100 miles of 15 major refueling routes.
The base's classic association between the active-duty 92nd Air Refueling Wing (ARW) and the Washington Air National Guard's 141st ARW has been successful and efficient. In 2011, the association flew 76 percent more hours per aircraft assigned than it did with fewer aircraft in 2007, prior to the association.
The 92nd ARW operates 33 KC-135 tankers with 54 aircrews. In 2011, the Wing supported Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation New Dawn in Iraq, Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya, and Operation Tomodachi in Japan, assisting disaster relief after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
A 13,900-foot runway completed in 2011 accommodates all heavy aircraft. Fairchild AFB is the second-most requested base in the country, and has been modernized with nearly $200 million in Military Construction (MILCON) projects in the last ten years, including the recent completion of a new fitness center and the current construction of the new Wing Headquarters. These MILCON projects prepare the base for a long future.
In addition, the recent adoption of the Joint Land Use Study by Spokane County and the City of Spokane protects the base from encroachment threats. In the past, the community has helped relocate a railroad line that posed a security risk, and arranged a land swap to expand other operations at the base.
Currently, community leaders are working to reduce Accident Potential Zone housing density beyond the east end of Fairchild's runway.
The region's competitive cost of living and immense support for the base gives us hope that the Air Force will choose Fairchild first.
Quotes From Federal Delegation
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): "I'm pleased that Fairchild First has put together this outstanding package in response to the Air Force's KC-46A strategic basing criteria. After examining the criteria, I believe that Fairchild is ideally positioned to receive the first KC-46A tankers. Fairchild not only has the necessary capacity to house the tankers, but it offers a cohesive partnership between the Active and Guard Wings. The base is also strategically positioned as the Air Force continues to pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. The leaders of our community - Republican and Democrat; private sector and public sector; military and civilian - are united in their determination to bring the tankers to Fairchild. We have many reasons to be optimistic."
Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA): "Basing tankers at Fairchild are important to jobs in the Inland Northwest - and to our military's strategic mission. Fairchild Air Force Base is the only aerial refueling tanker base west of the Rockies and close to 15 air refueling routes. Fairchild has been host to the KC-135 tankers for more than 50 years, and is a clear choice for the U.S. Air Force. Our bipartisan coalition will continue working to ensure that Spokane gets the strong consideration it deserves to be home to the new tankers."
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA): "Fairchild's long tanker history, strong community support and joint operations between the Active Duty and Guard put it in an ideal position to succeed. The economic benefits of bringing tankers to this region and the assets this region provides should make it an obvious choice. As we all know, Spokane and Fairchild have plenty to offer and the community's commitment to Fairchild is truly the base's strongest selling point. When it comes to Fairchild Air Force Base - the people of Spokane dig in and get to work."