Lawmakers push for Spokane as KC-46 tanker base

Spokane should be the base for the KC-46A tankers that Boeing is building for the Air Force, Washington lawmakers wrote on Wednesday.

Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane “is in an optimal strategic position to maximize support for the KC-46A mission,” the state’s Congressional delegation wrote in a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.

Boeing is building the Air Force tanker, which is based on the company’s commercial 767 jet, in Everett. Top Air Force officials said last week that the tanker remains their top acquisition priority despite federal budget cuts.

The state’s Congressional delegation has been lobbying to make Spokane the base location for the KC-46A tanker since late 2011. The Air Force selected Boeing’s tanker earlier that year.

Fairchild Air Force Base already is home to the KC-135, which the new tanker will replace. The KC-135s also were built by Boeing and are roughly 50 years old.

Lawmakers say Fairchild already possesses much of the infrastructure and capacity needed to accommodate the KC-46A tanker.

“With the Department of Defense rebalancing towards the Asia-Pacific region, Fairchild is the best positioned candidate base to support the spectrum of bilateral and multilateral training exercises, as well as possible contingency operations, in U.S. Pacific Command’s area of responsibility,” the delegation wrote.

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