Hoeven: Narrowing of Candidates for Air Force Tanker Mission Delayed

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven said the Air Force informed him Tuesday afternoon that it has deferred its plan to release a narrowed list of bases eligible to receive the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker mission.

Hoeven met last week with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to make the case again for Grand Forks Air Force Base being selected as a site for the new tanker mission. At the time, Welsh indicated that the Air Force is working to narrow its list of eligible bases and expected to announce the finalists on Dec. 12. Although officials gave no alternative date, Hoeven said the indication is that a list will be released sometime over the next few weeks.

“Grand Forks Air Force Base has long played a major role in upholding our nation’s defenses, and we will continue to push for locating the KC-46A,” Hoeven said. “The base has outstanding infrastructure and is already working jointly with the Air Guard on the Predator mission. Both these capabilities make Grand Forks well suited to effectively execute the new tanker mission.”

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-46A aerial refueling tanker. Welsh said earlier that he expects that three bases – one Guard base, one training base and one active duty base – will be selected from the candidate finalists list by the spring of 2013.

Hoeven serves as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.