WASHINGTON, D.C. – Air Force officials announced Monday that Fairchild Air Force Base is the preferred choice to base a squadron of KC-135 refueling tankers.
"Fairchild Air Force Base 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."
Fairchild beat out MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida, to receive these tankers. The aircraft are currently scheduled to transfer from the McConnell AFB, Kansas, in the year 2020. This transfer will bring the total number of tankers based at Fairchild to 56. These new tankers will make Fairchild the largest Air Force KC-135 base in the country.
"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,” said General Carlton D. Everhart II, the Air Mobility Command commander.
The Air Force said the decision was based on a number of criteria, including Fairchild’s ability to better support the high priority air refueling missions as well as its lower construction costs.
Washington government officials, including Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, celebrated the selection of Fairchild AFB. In March, Rep. McMorris Rodgers and Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell sent a letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force. In the letter they said, “Fairchild continues to be a vital location for the Air Force and a crucial base for national defense, the Air Force and the State of Washington.”