Local News

Fairchild should get KC-46A decision this month

AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash. - Fairchild Air Force Base should get word later this month whether it will become the permanent home for the Air Force's new KC-46A tankers.

A decision was expected this week but has been postponed.

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been a strong advocate of Fairchild landing the next generation of tankers. She said Fairchild is strategically positioned because of it's relationship with the Washington Air National Guard.

"One distinguishing factor for Fairchild is the association between the Guard and the active duty. Fairchild is the only base that has the association and it's a model for the Air Force, and the Guard, the Air National Guard is making a big push. Fairchild should be the one," she said.

Fairchild KC-46a beddown decision

Fairchild is one of four bases vying for the new tankers, but one question hanging out there in Airway Heights is would the Spokane Tribe's proposed casino project jeopardize Fairchild's chances of getting the KC-46A?

A new study, compiled by Madison Government Affairs, a Washington, DC-based government relations firm, and paid for by the Spokane Tribe, said it would not impact Fairchild's chances of getting the tanker.

The study, released by the tribe Thursday, suggests both Fairchild and the Spokane Tribe can be compatible.

The Spokane Tribe Economic Project -- or STEP -- calls for a mixed-use development that includes a casino and hotel to be built on the West Plains near the airbase.

The tribe said the project is expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs to the region and cost about $400 Million, all financed through the private sector.

The project has certainly drawn its share of controversy. Some elected officials fear the project could prevent Fairchild from securing the KC-46A. In fact, in January Spokane County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution opposing the project.

Authors of the study believe the STEP project will not be a hazard to flight operations at Fairchild while tribal leaders don't believe there's an issue either with building another casino so close to the Kalispel Tribe's Northern Quest Casino.