On June 5, Air Force officials announced Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., as the preferred location for basing 12 KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, and MacDill AFB, Fla., as the reasonable alternative.
“Fairchild (AFB) is the best choice for additional Air Force tankers,” said Heather Wilson, the Secretary of the Air Force. “It’s well placed to gas up aircraft going across the Pacific, and it has the facilities we need without a lot of construction, making it the lower-cost option for the taxpayer.”
The aircraft are currently scheduled to transfer from McConnell AFB, Kansas, in fiscal year 2020, as McConnell AFB is slated to receive the KC-46A Pegasus.
“Fairchild Air Force Base has been an integral part of our nation’s defense since World War II and serves as a critical air refueling center of excellence for our nation,” said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, the Air Mobility Command commander. “The addition of 12 KC-135 Stratotankers at this strategically located base enhances our ability to meet constantly evolving global needs of combatant commanders who rely on air refueling every day.”
During detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base, AMC evaluated operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, manpower, and cost.
The Air Force is answering current air refueling constraints by building the tanker fleet to 479 aircraft.
“The KC-135 fleet will remain the backbone of the tanker mission for decades to come,” said Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force Chief of Staff. “We are committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander tanker requirements during the tanker recapitalization effort by continuing to upgrade and modernize the KC-135 fleet.”