Today, the Air Force announced that Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State is a final candidate to serve as a base for the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker.  The base is a candidate for the first Main Operating Base, which will host three KC-46A squadrons of twelve aircraft each beginning in 2016.  House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement after the announcement:

“I am pleased to see Fairchild Air Force Base included in the list of final candidates to host KC-46A,” Smith said. “Fairchild has played a critical part in our nation’s aerial refueling effort with the KC-135, and it is my hope that it will continue to do so with the next generation of aerial refueling tankers.”

After identifying the basing criteria in April 2012, the Air Force examined military installations across the country to select the candidates for the first two operational bases for KC-46A.  In addition to Fairchild Air Force Base, the other candidates for the first Main Operating Base announced by the Air Force include Altus Air Force Base, OK; Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND; and McConnell Air Force Base, KS. The Air Force will conduct site surveys of the candidate installations before announcing the preferred and alternative bases in April 2013. A final basing decision is expected to be made by the Air Force in Spring 2014.

On May 16, 2012, Congressman Smith signed a letter with local Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and the rest of the Washington State Congressional Delegation to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, encouraging the Air Force to base KC-46A at Fairchild. The letter detailed Fairchild’s capacity to accommodate the tanker and its success with previous aerial refueling efforts.