Spokane Loses Bid to House Air Force Tanker

By Steve Jackson

Disappointing news in Spokane today (Wednesday), as the regions Air Force base lost out on in a bid to be the first to house the Air Forces newest refueling tanker aircraft.

While Spokane and Washington state leaders have spent the last few years touting Fairchild Air Force Base as the leading contender to take the first new Boeing KC 46A tanker planes, the Pentagon Wednesday decided that McConnell Air Force base in Wichita Kansas will be their choice.
McConnell will receive the first batch of 36 planes in 2016.

Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rogers says she spoke with the Secretary of the Air Force Wednesday, who told her Fairchild will still be in the running for in the next round of KC-46A assignments.

McMorris-Rodgers: “Whenever I talk to leaders in our military they speak very highly of Fairchild, and they have wanted to assure me that it is just a matter of time before Fairchild gets these new tankers."

Rich Hadley is with Greater Spokane Incorporated, which had worked to promote Fairchild on it’s strengths, including the fact it is the closest tanker base to the Pacific Rim , with more than $400 million spent on improving the base infrastructure over the last several decades.

Hadley says he is now worried about the bases future, because even if Fairchild does eventually get assigned the new planes, that may beas long as 8 years down the road.

Hadley: “Because the military installation supply exceeds the need by amount 30 percent just in the air force, I’m dramatically concerned a new base closure process would occur before we see a new mission here, and that means were at risk”

Fairchild is the largest employer in Spokane County.

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