Delegation, Governor Call on Top Air Force Leaders to Base the KC-46 Tanker in Grand Forks

WASHINGTON – In a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Mark Welsh, Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer and Governor Jack Dalrymple again made the case for basing the new KC-46 tanker at Grand Forks Air Force Base. They said efficiency, strategic advantage, established infrastructure and enthusiastic community support make Grand Forks a prime location for the mission.

“We strongly support basing the KC-46 aircraft at Grand Forks Air Force Base, and urge you to choose Grand Forks when you select the first main operating base for this aircraft,” the delegation and governor wrote. “As you know, Grand Forks previously hosted the KC-135 tanker, and there are several unique reasons why the base is well suited to take on the new aerial refueling mission.”

Adding a tanker base to the north central part of the country creates more options for the Air Force without loss of refueling capacity in other parts of the country, they said. Moreover, GFAFB’s location means tankers would be in an ideal position to support the shortest northern deployment routes to various overseas areas of operation.

Additionally, the infrastructure at the Grand Forks base is first-rate and will require minimal modification to accommodate the larger KC-46. As a result, the Air Force will need to make less up-front investment in Grand Forks than for any of the other candidate bases. Additionally, the delegation and governor said the process of standing up the KC-46 mission will have no effect on KC-135 activities that are ongoing at other candidate bases.

Finally, and importantly, the GFAFB gets second-to-none support from the local community, the delegation and governor said. They know the significance of the tanker mission based on past experience, and they stand ready to do whatever is necessary to make the KC-46 mission in GFAFB a success.

“North Dakota’s elected officials stand united with the community of Grand Forks in support of bringing the KC-46 mission to Grand Forks Air Force Base,” the delegation and governor said. “We understand that the Air Force has to make difficult decisions regarding the basing of this aircraft. We strongly urge you to consider the advantages of Grand Forks as the location for your first KC-46 main operating base.”