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Fairchild Officials Say Base Is Well Positioned Despite Losing Out On Tankers

Jessica Robinson
Northwest News Network

Officials at Fairchild Air Force Base say their role in the military's Asia-Pacific operations will not change anytime soon. That's despite the Pentagon Wednesday opting not to locate the next generation of Air Force refueling tankers at the base outside of Spokane, Wash.

Col. Brian Newberry spoke to reporters at Fairchild Air Force Base in front of a hulking gray plane. This aircraft was built in 1958. It's one of the refueling tankers slated to be replaced by the bigger, more advanced KC-46A, built by Boeing.

For now, Fairchild won’t get any of those new models. But Newberry says there’s time -- the changeover will take years. “Know this: It is only the first act in a long, long play and there will be 10 bases over all that will end up being KC-46.”

Washington Sen. Patty Murray says she’s disappointed by the decision. But she says Fairchild is well positioned for future tanker assignments. “And, there is another round, so we're going to look at the facts and make a determination of where we go from here.”

Murray says the Air Force sees Fairchild as an important West Coast presence as the Pentagon focuses more on the Pacific Rim and Asian countries.

The military chose McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas to house the first round of KC-46A refueling tankers.


Matt Laslo in Washington, D.C. contributed to this story.