NEW HAMPSHIRE DELEGATION: PEASE IDEAL FOR KC-46A

In Letter to Air Force Chief of Staff, Shaheen, Ayotte, Shea-Porter, Kuster Declare Pease Air National Guard base ‘optimal location for the KC-46A’

February 11, 2013

(Washington, D.C.) –  In a letter to Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) along with Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) and Annie Kuster (NH-2) encouraged the Air Force to select Pease Air National Guard Base as a home for the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker. 

Last month, the Air Force announced that Pease – home to the 157th Air Refueling Wing – was one of five finalists to receive the KC-46A, which will replace the Eisenhower era KC-135 tankers.  Air Force officials are visiting Pease this week to begin assessing its competitiveness to receive the tanker.

“Pease stands out because of its existing infrastructure to support the KC-46A with nearly one million gallons of bulk fuel storage and parking for up to 19 of the new aircraft.  In addition to having one of the largest aircraft parking ramps in the Air National Guard, Pease has one of the longest runways in the Northeast and an absence of any environmental issues that would impede the basing and operation of the KC-46A,” the letter said.

“Pease also boasts a mature and well-performing Active Duty Association.  While the Air Force may plan to develop associations at all KC-46A bases, the time and resources required to optimize an association’s performance should not be underestimated.  As a base with a long-standing and high-performing association, Pease offers significant advantages over bases that lack similar organizations.”

The Air Force will conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base to assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower.  Once the site surveys are complete, the Air Force will select preferred and reasonable alternative locations and begin an Environmental Impact Analysis Process in the spring of 2013.  The selected Air National Guard base will receive aircraft beginning in fiscal year 2018.

Senators Shaheen and Ayotte serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Shea-Porter serves on the House Armed Services Committee.

The full text of the letter is below.

February 8, 2013

General Mark A. Welsh III                                                                                                                                          

Air Force Chief of Staff                                                                                                                                                       

1670 Air Force Pentagon                                                                                                                            

Washington, DC 20330

Dear General Welsh:

As the Air Force evaluates final candidate bases for the KC-46A, we would like to express our continued support for Pease Air National Guard base and the 157th Air Refueling Wing.  As you know, Pease’s proximity to operational and training refueling tracks, its aircraft-related infrastructure, its training flight simulator, and Total Force Enterprise make it an ideal candidate for the KC-46A.

Located only minutes from the most important refueling tracks for U.S.-based aircraft heading to the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, Pease is well suited to support a range of training and operational missions.  In fact, Pease is 12 minutes from the Coronet routing to Europe and the Middle East and is ideally positioned to support the OPLAN 8010 mission.   Proximity to these critical refueling tracks saves time and money, ensuring outstanding value for the Air Force. 

Pease stands out because of its existing infrastructure to support the KC-46A with nearly one million gallons of bulk fuel storage and parking for up to 19 of the new aircraft.  In addition to having one of the largest aircraft parking ramps in the Air National Guard, Pease has one of the longest runways in the Northeast and an absence of any environmental issues that would impede the basing and operation of the KC-46A.

Further, Pease has a full motion, full visibility KC-135 simulator that could easily be converted for the KC-46A.  Adapting an existing simulator facility, like the one at Pease, to accommodate the KC-46A would be much less expensive than building a new facility at another base.

Pease also boasts a mature and well-performing Active Duty Association.  While the Air Force may plan to develop associations at all KC-46A bases, the time and resources required to optimize an association’s performance should not be underestimated.  As a base with a long-standing and high-performing association, Pease offers significant advantages over bases that lack similar organizations.  As evidence of the advantages of a mature and well-performing Active Duty Association, the 157th Air Refueling Wing achieved the highest aircraft utilizations rates in the Air National Guard in Fiscal Year 2011.  In addition, the 157th Air Refueling Wing recently received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the 11th time. 

We understand that there are several competitive potential Air National Guard locations for the KC-46A.  However, based on the Air Force’s metrics, we believe Pease Air National Guard base represents the optimal location for the KC-46A.

We stand ready to work with you and provide whatever support is necessary to help ensure Pease Air National Guard base continues to provide the best tanker support in the Air National Guard.  Thank you for your continued services on behalf of our men and women in uniform and our grateful Nation.

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