Hoeven: Narrowing of Candidates for Air Force Tanker Mission Coming December 12

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that he met this week with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to again make the case for Grand Forks Air Force Based being selected as a site for the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker. Welsh indicated that the Air Force is working to narrow its list of bases eligible to receive the tanker missions and will announce finalists on Dec. 12.

The Air Force is currently using a strict set of criteria to compile a list of candidate bases best positioned to serve as the permanent sites for the new KC-26A aerial refueling tanker. Welsh anticipates that three bases, one Guard affiliated, one training and one active duty, will be selected from the candidate finalist list by spring of 2013.

“Grand Forks Air Force Base has long played a significant role upholding our nation’s defenses,” Hoeven said. “During my meeting with Gen. Welsh, I advocated strongly on behalf of Grand Forks’ ability to serve as a home for the new tanker. The base has outstanding infrastructure capabilities and is already working jointly with the Air Guard on the Predator mission. Both these factors make Grand Forks well suited to effectively execute the new tanker mission.”

Hoeven also invited the general to join him on a visit to Grand Forks to review the base’s capabilities and see the new Global Hawk unmanned aerial mission.

In addition to discussions regarding the tanker mission, Hoeven also stressed to Welsh the importance of continuing the nation’s nuclear triad, noting the important role Minot Air Force Base currently serves as the only location in the United States to host two legs of the triad. Gen. Welsh’s recently visited Minot Air Force Base, and agreed with Hoeven that the Air Force achieves efficiencies by co-locating the missiles and bomber missions in Minot.

“Minot Air Force Base continues its important role as the nation’s only location to hold two legs of the triad, and I’m pleased Gen. Welsh shares in our commitment to working to support the nuclear triad and modernize missions so that we’re best meeting the current and future needs of our nation’s defense,” said Hoeven.

Hoeven recently authored an amendment that was attached to the Department of Defense (DOD) Authorization Act that will help to ensure that the nation maintains a strong and credible nuclear deterrent well into the future. The measure affirms Senate support for retaining and modernizing the three legs of America’s nuclear triad, and the language of the amendment affirms the importance of modernizing the various parts of the triad to keep our nuclear deterrent viable and credible.

While meeting with Welsh, the senator also advocated for the importance of C-27J aircraft for the North Dakota National Guard. Hoeven worked to ensure that the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act include the plane’s continued use by the Air Force. The new DoD Authorization bill passed by the Senate Tuesday instructs the Air Force to retain and study use of the C-27J.

Hoeven, who serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, informed Gen. Welsh that he will continue to support efforts to upgrade the B-52 and to enhance the Global Hawk.