Fairchild Won't House Tankers

By Steve Jackson

Fairchild Air Force Base lost its bid to serve as the primary home for the nation’s new refueling tankers.  McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita Kansas was told Wednesday they will be the home for the new KC 46A Tanker.

The decision is significant for Fairchild and the Spokane area as the selection carries with it hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact.

Fairchild is the largest employer in Spokane County.  Area business leaders and elected officials had promoted the base as an ideal choice. Among the selling points, Fairchild was the closest tanker base to the Pacific Rim and more than $400 million had been spent in improving the base infrastructure over the last several decades.

McConnell will receive 36 new tankers in 2016 as the main active-duty base.

The Air Force is scheduled to buy 179 of the new tankers through 2028, and the Air Force says it hopes eventually have 10 bases with the new tankers. Another round of base assignment of new tankers is expected to be held in a couple of years. 

Reaction from lawmakers:

Joint letter by Sen. Patty Murray, Sen. Maria Cantwell, Rep. Cathy McMorris-Rodgers: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ID=d53e75ad-ac28-44f7-9933-72bff45253d5
Murray demands briefing from USAF officials: http://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ID=1bc233cb-7238-4506-b890-a7b1b4b3e157

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