Local News

Fairchild to receive additional KC 135s

SPOKANE, Wash. - Fairchild Air Force Base will receive an additional dozen air refueling tanker planes.

Fairchild is on its way to becoming the biggest aerial refueling base in the country.

A dozen new KC-135 tankers will boost Fairchild's fleet to nearly 60 tankers and will help the area land new jobs and play a larger role in our national defense.

Fairchild is doing more than just picking up a new squadron of tankers.

It's also getting all the people it takes to fly and maintain those planes and the money they get in their paychecks is also good for the Spokane economy.

It's the second time this year that Fairchild's Wing Commander has told his airmen they are inheriting gently used tankers from Kansas where McConnell Air Force Base is making room for its new KC-46's.

If military aircraft need to guard the West Coast or cross the Pacific, Fairchild is in the right place to refuel them.

“In addition, because we do have robust facilities here, it was determined that this base was the most cost effective for the United State's Air Force at this time,” said Colonel Ryan Samuelson.

That means Spokane's biggest employer will add 400 new workers to its payroll, not to mention a lot of new construction projects.

“Once the final basing decision is solidified this fall, we will move forward with millions of dollars in additional repairs,” he said. “Existing infrastructure will be upgraded and some new infrastructure will be required as well.”

Some of the new planes coming to Fairchild are equipped with a multi-point refueling system, which means they can gas up air force aircraft with their boom, but also refuel Navy and NATO jets with baskets that dangle from the KC-135's wing tips.

The versatile MPR's, as they are called, come in handy when thirsty fighters from the U.S. and our allies are flying over the battle field together.

“So receptacle aircraft that takes the boom can go up and refuel on the exact same mission that we refuel some of our Navy and coalition partners with the multi-point refueling system,” Samuelson said.

The new tankers and airmen don't start showing up until 2019, but the fact the Pentagon is sending them is all great news for Fairchild.