Fairchild prepped, ready to receive additional KC-135s

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dustin Mullen and Senior Airman Ryan Lackey
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force officials announced April 9 that Fairchild Air Force Base has been approved as the new home for 12 additional KC-135 Stratotankers, which will begin arriving from McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, in fiscal year 2020.

Following completion of thorough strategic basing and environmental analysis, Fairchild was selected because of its strategic location, high air refueling mission demand and lower construction and renovation costs.

“Fairchild is the perfect fit for these new tankers because of our demonstrated capability to provide responsive air refueling across the globe,” said Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “Through hard work and dedication, our Airmen have established Fairchild as the Air Refueling Center of Excellence and we will continue to carry forth this legacy as the world’s largest tanker wing.”

The aircraft increase will prompt the reactivation of the 97th Air Refueling Squadron, along with another aircraft maintenance unit.

“The Air Force Personnel Center has done a terrific job increasing our aircrew numbers in preparation for the reactivation,” said Col. Russell Davis, 92nd Operations Group commander. “We will leverage that temporary additional manpower to identify Airmen who will shift to the 97th ARS to complete the rebuilding efforts for that squadron. We will be making these decisions in such a way as to not diminish the existing combat capability of our existing three air refueling squadrons.”

The Spokane region will grow as approximately 1,000 Airmen and families move to the Inland Northwest, stimulating the local economy by an additional $19.5 million dollars, Davis added.

“[Adding to] the U.S. Air Force’s largest fleet of KC-135s in the Pacific Northwest will save hours to days of response time in the event of a developing crisis or conflict,” Davis said. “This force posture change will enable the U.S. military to rapidly respond and take decisive action if needed.”

The KC-135 Stratotanker is slated to continue answering the increasing demand for refueling aircraft to meet force-wide mission requirements well into the future.

“The KC-135 Stratotanker will remain a vital component of Department of Defense mission capabilities for decades to come,” Salmi said. “Our tankers and Airmen are the proven backbone to airpower and rapid global mobility, and when it’s all said and done, the KC-135 will likely have been in the Air Force inventory for nearly 100 years. That will serve as a true testament to our dedicated, innovative Airmen who will be the ones who get it there.”