Air Force releases basing criteria for next generation air refueling tanker
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Based on new criteria released today, Pease Air National Guard Base is the best location for the Air Force’s new KC-46A tanker, said U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in a letter to Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz. Earlier today, the Air Force released metrics that will determine the basing location for the new KC-46A tanker, which will replace the KC-135 tankers that the Guard currently flies out of Pease.
“Based on the metrics the Air Force has selected, we believe Pease Air National Guard Base is the optimal location and the 157th Air Refueling Wing is the ideal unit for the KC-46A tankers that will be assigned to the Air National Guard in 2017,” the Senators wrote. “The basing criteria places a premium on a base’s location relative to operational and training refueling tracks, aircraft-related infrastructure, as well as the presence of a flight simulator and Total Force Enterprise. In each of these areas, Pease represents a clearly superior base for the KC-46A.”
The Senators, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, received an update last week from the New Hampshire Air National Guard on Pease’s unique advantages as a base for the new KC-46A tanker. In meetings and hearings with Air Force and Pentagon officials, the Senators have repeatedly praised the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing and have pushed for objective and transparent basing criteria to decide where to station the new tankers.
SHAHEEN/AYOTTE LETTER TO GENERAL SCHWARTZ:
Dear General Schwartz:
We would like to congratulate you on today’s release of the KC-46A basing criteria, which includes the metrics that will determine where the KC-46A will be stationed.
Based on the metrics the Air Force has selected, we believe Pease Air National Guard Base’s 157th Air Refueling Wing represents the optimal location and unit for the twelve KC-46A tankers that will be assigned to an Air National Guard base in 2017. The basing criteria places a premium on a base’s location relative to operational and training refueling tracks, aircraft-related infrastructure, as well as the presence of a flight simulator and Total Force Enterprise. In each of these areas, Pease represents a clearly superior base for the KC-46A.
Pease enjoys an ideal location, only a few minutes flight time to the most important refueling tracks for U.S. based aircraft heading to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. In fact, Pease is within 12 minutes of Coronet routing to Europe and the Middle East. Pease’s proximity to these critical refueling tracks saves time and money. Pease is also ideally suited to support the OPLAN 8010 mission.
In the area of existing infrastructure to support the KC-46A, Pease also stands out. Pease has the largest fuel storage capability and largest Air National Guard aircraft parking ramp in the northeast. In addition, Pease also 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 at Pease. Also, Pease’s close proximity to major ground transportation nodes and a deep water port would allow the Air Force to take full advantage of the KC-46A’s cargo and aeromedical capabilities.
Pease is also the only Air National Guard base east of the Mississippi River to have a full motion, full visibility simulator. With relatively minor modifications, this existing tanker simulator facility could easily accommodate a KC-46A simulator. Adapting an existing simulator facility like the one at Pease to accommodate the KC-46A would be much less expensive for the Air Force and the taxpayers than building a new facility at another Air National Guard 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, it takes a significant amount of time to optimize the performance of an association. A base with a long-standing and high-performing association offers significant advantages over a base that would be struggling to stand-up an association as they are trying to accept twelve new aircraft. As evidence of the advantages of a mature and well-performing Active Duty Association, the 157th Air Refueling Wing achieved the highest aircraft utilization rates in the Air National Guard in fiscal year 2011.
We understand that there may be several competitive potential Air National Guard locations for the KC-46A. However, based on the objective metrics the Air Force has selected, we believe Pease Air National Guard base represents the optimal location for the twelve KC-46A tankers that will be stationed with the Air National Guard in 2017.
We stand ready to work with you and provide whatever support is necessary to help ensure Pease Air National Guard base—the ideal Air National Guard location for the KC-46A—is able to continue to provide the best tanker support in the Air National Guard. Thank you for your continued service on behalf of our men and women in uniform and our nation.
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