SPOKANE -- Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane is a finalist to become the first base to operate the next generation of air refueling tanker planes.
That announcement was made jointly Wednesday by Washington senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
The three other finalists are Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. A decision is expected this spring.
Fairchild is currently home to KC-135 aerial refueling tankers and has invested over $400 million in base infrastructure over the last several decades.
The lawmakers say Fairchild already possesses much of the needed capacity to accommodate the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, including a 14,000 foot runway and a new wing command headquarters.
Fairchild employs 5,000 people in the Spokane area.
Greater Spokane Incorporated said Fairchild has $600 million economic impact on the area each year.