Additional refueling aircraft coming to Fairchild AFB will stimulate local economy

The reactivation of the 97th Air Refueling Squadron took place at Fairchild Airforce Base on Friday.

The squadron’s reactivation brings 12 additional KC-135 Stratotankers to the base, along with roughly 1,000 Airmen and their families.

The additional airmen moving to the Inland Northwest is expected to stimulate the local economy by $19.5 million dollars, said Col. Russell Davis, 92nd Operations Group commander.

Lt. Col. Cindy Dawson assumed control of the squadron. She says she’s wanted to be a commander since the first time she got onto her first KC-135 squadron as a lieutenant.

“Now to have the opportunity to lead our airmen in that experience, I get the chance, that most people don’t, which is to shape how we build ourselves and how we define ourselves to this new squadron moving forward,” Dawson said. “I’m so excited, I have goosebumps. I can’t contain myself “

Why so many stratotankers in Spokane?

“We have a great airfield here,” said Dawson. “It’s large and able to handle the capacity of growth. The Spokane community is wonderful.”

“[Fairchild] will be a strategic hub for KC-135 refueling operations for decades to come,” said Maj. Gen. Same Barrett, 18th Air Force commander. “It’s extraordinary that we take these weapon systems, with our innovative Airmen, and employ them all around the word with near-perfect mission execution. This base will truly be the Center of Excellence for the KC-135.”

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