FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. — Fairchild Air Force Base was not selected to be a main operating base for the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker.
In a press release, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Senator Patty Murray said they were disappointed in the decision.
“For years, I have advocated for the incredible men and women who serve selflessly on this base in Eastern Washington, and that work will continue," McMorris Rodgers said. "I look forward to working in a bipartisan way with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Senator Murray to ensure the base is secure and provide our airmen and women with the resources they need to accomplish their mission.”
In July, the lawmakers urged Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall to give Fairchild Air Force Base his full consideration when selecting the next home for the KC-46A tanker fleet.
“As one of the largest air-refueling tanker bases in the country, Fairchild Air Force Base already possesses the needed capacity and ability to accommodate KC-46A aerial refueling tankers—which makes the Air Force’s decision not to house the new KC-46A fleet at Fairchild all the more inexplicable,” Murray said.
During the previous round of tanker basing in 2017, Rodgers and Murray successfully pushed to relocate a squadron of KC-135s to Fairchild. In 2013, the Air Force decided not to select Fairchild for the second round of KC-46A basing decisions.
According to Boeing, in February 2011, the tanker was selected by the United States Air Force as the winner in the KC-X tanker competition to replace older Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.
The KC-46A Pegasus is a tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures.
Fairchild released the following statement about the decision:
"The basing process for the KC-46 was done at the Secretary of the Air Force level, and our role has been simply to provide information to the decision makers. Fairchild AFB is considered an alternative to the primary base, and will also undergo an environmental impact analysis.
Fairchild AFB has played, and will continue to play, an important role in the defense of our nation. We will continue to execute our missions at home and abroad, no matter the type of aircraft we operate, along with our Air National Guard and SERE partners. With 68 KC-135s currently stationed at Fairchild AFB, we are proud to provide support and aerial refueling as the world’s super tanker wing. We have empowered, combat-ready Airmen who are capable of accomplishing their missions anywhere around the globe, at the timing of our choice.
We expect the KC-135s here at Fairchild AFB to remain the backbone of our nation’s tanker enterprise for decades come.”