Fairchild vying for new tankers

SPOKANE, Wash. - Fairchild Air Force Base has been selected as one of four finalists to operate the new refueling tanker fleet.

"The KC-135 is the work horse of our nation, what the KC-46A does is much more capacity for us to be able to fuel the fight, to fuel freedom," Col. Brian Newberry, Commander of the 92nd Air Refueling Wing said.

"It has a larger capacity for us to give more fuel to fighters and bombers and other aircraft," he added.

Fairchild vying for new tankers

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Fairchild Air Force Base is one step closer to operating the first active duty base for the KC-46A.

Over the next year, the Air Force will be visiting four bases across the country trying to decide where the new tanker will be most effective.

"They'll be looking at how the tanker and the mission work well together, they'll be looking at cost, cost is always a factor for basing it here in the Inland Northwest," Newberry said.

"They'll be looking at the environmental factors as well," he added.  

"So it's great capabilities across the board for us in air mobility command, continuing fueling the fight, delivering hope and saving lives," Newberry added.

The Air Force plans to roll out 179 KC-46A aircraft in the next 15 years.  Eventually, the new tankers will be stationed at 10 different bases across the country.

Col. Newberry said the list of finalists will be narrowed down later this year, with a final decision expected in 2014.

Forward Fairchild, a committee developed to help bring the new tanker to Spokane, said it could add more than five thousand jobs to our local economy.

"We're incredibly happy that Fairchild made the first cut," Greg Bever said.

Bever is Chair of Forward Fairchild, a committee with Greater Spokane Incorporated.

Altus AFB in Oklahoma, Grand Forks AFB in North Dakota and McConnell AFB in Kansas are also vying to operate the KC-46A.