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Pease Air National Guard Base Enjoys Unique Advantages in Competition

(Washington, D.C.) – As the Air Force develops the basing competition criteria for the new KC-46A air refueling tanker, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) urged top Air Force officials to conduct a methodical and transparent process based on clearly defined metrics – which plays to the strengths of Pease Air National Guard base. The senators emphasized this point today at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which both are members.

“Since 9/11, the men and women of the 157th have provided air refueling coverage to critical combatant commands overseas 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Shaheen said.  “What’s more, Pease’s proximity to air refueling tracks makes it the most cost-effective location to base these planes in the Northeast.  With the know-how and the location needed to support the new aircraft, Pease is best positioned to contribute to the Air Force’s refueling missions.”

After the hearing, Senator Ayotte said, “I applaud the Air Force’s determination to develop basing criteria in a systematic and open manner. I believe Pease Air National Guard Base is well-positioned to win a basing competition based on the merits.  No other unit in the northeast can provide the level of aircraft utilization more cost effectively than the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease.” 

In February, the Air Force and Defense Department announced they had awarded Boeing a contract to build the next generation of aerial refueling tankers, which allow other planes to refuel in mid-air.  Several bases across the country are being considered as potential homes for the new planes with initial basing decisions for the first set of tankers expected to be announced in late 2012.

In addition to their conversation with Donley and Schwartz at the hearing, Shaheen and Ayotte also sent the two Air Force officials a letter calling for a comprehensive and open process.  The Senators emphasized the factors that make Pease a leading choice to station the new planes.  Apart from the base’s proximity to refueling tracks and the unit’s unique partnership with the active duty, Pease has one of the highest aircraft utilization rates in the Air National Guard, ensuring that these critical new assets would be put to use to an extent few other bases could match.

The full text of the Senators’ letter to Donley and Schwartz is below.

March 17, 2011 

The Honorable Michael B. Donley
Secretary of the Air Force
United States Air Force
Washington, DC 20330-1670

General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF
Chief of Staff
United States Air Force
Washington, DC 20330-1670

Dear Secretary Donley and General Schwartz:

We write to congratulate the U.S. Air Force on its final decision to award the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker.  The fact that EADS has decided to not contest the decision is a testament to the thorough and transparent selection process you managed.  As we move forward with the program and formulate the basing criteria for the KC-46A, we have confidence that the Air Force will again conduct a comprehensive and open process. 

Many states are closely following the Air Force's decision-making process in terms of strategic basing, including our own state of New Hampshire, where the 157th Air Refueling Wing based out of the Pease Air National Guard Base has been providing persistent air refueling coverage to critical combatant commands overseas since September 11, 2001.  The 157th currently flies 8 KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft and nearly 1,000 personnel support this mission on a continuing basis with a history of excellence and pride.   

We believe that Pease ANGB is the preeminent location for basing of the KC-46A, based on its experienced personnel, open airspace, close partnership with an active associate unit, modern facilities, significant ramp space, long runway, cost effectiveness, and strategic location to support current and future requirements for the military.  No other unit in the northeast can provide the level of aircraft utilization more cost effectively than the 157th Air Refueling Wing at Pease. 

We applaud the Air Force's determination to undertake an objective and comprehensive process in determining the most effective and efficient location for the basing of these critical aircraft.  We are confident that Pease ANGB will compete successfully in such a process.  We look forward to working closely with you as the Air Force begins its strategic basing process in the months ahead.  

Thank you for your time and consideration.


United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen                                   
United States Senator Kelly Ayotte