New Jersey Delegation Sends Letters to Air Force and National Guard Supporting Joint Base for New Tanker Mission

Feb 7, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to support Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) being selected as the initial Air National Guard-led Main Operating Base 2(MOB 2) for the KC-46A tanker aircraft, Congressman Jon Runyan worked with the entire New Jersey delegation in sending letters to the United States Air Force, United States Air National Guard, and the National Guard Bureau showing the delegation’s full support. 

On January 9th, the Air Force announced that JB MDL was selected as one of five bases being considered to house the KC-46A tanker.  The letter highlights the current infrastructure, strategic location, and current missions of the base as reasons JB MDL should be selected.

The full text of the letter to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force is as follows:

Dear Secretary Donley and General Welsh:

As the Air Force considers candidate bases for the National Guard-led Main Operating Base 2(MOB 2) for the KC-46A tanker, we write to express our strong support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL) and the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 108th Air Refueling Wing (ARW).  We stand unified in asking that as you move forward in the selection process, full consideration be given to JB MDL and the 108th ARW in all phases of the MOB 2 basing decision making process.

As you assess each of the five possible MOB 2 installation’s ability to absorb this critical tanker mission, we hope you keep in mind all that JBMDL brings to the mission.  The base’s strategic location, current Reserve Component mission, outstanding unit expertise and readiness, excellent logistics, and a unique underground fuel storage and dispensing system set it apart.  JB MDL also offers outstanding base infrastructure, excellent flying weather, great Quality of Life (QOL), and strong community support.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is host to active duty, National Guard, and Reserve units. The base’s extensive experience in joint operations, its existing assets and facilities combined with the expertise of the men and women of the 108th ARW, make it the perfect location for MOB 2.  As you are aware, the base is Air Mobility Command’s premier East Coast refueling hub and is closer to Northeast Tanker Task Force and Operation NOBLE EAGLE Combat Air Patrol tracks than any other tanker unit.  It also provides current support to US Strategic Command, which would enable the KC-46A’s additional nuclear operations support mission to be easily accommodated.  The outstanding servicemembers at JB MDL, and in the 108th ARW, remain actively involved in substantial aerial refueling support for Air-Bridge operations across the Atlantic to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Southwest Asia. 

A $70 million premier tanker infrastructure campus at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst supports all the current tanker and airlift units.  The installation has the available airspace, excellent airfield assets, and a new runway to support the mission. The existing tanker facilities could easily absorb the new tanker with minimum added infrastructure costs, because they were originally designed to accommodate up to twenty tanker aircraft.  JB MDL also has the most advanced fueling system of all tanker units, currently being the only tanker unit with bulk fuel deliveries via secure underground pipeline.  

Most importantly, the 108th Air Refueling Wing has a long history of outstanding service as a combat-proven, highly qualified force.  Currently, the 108th is the only Air National Guard unit that flies the KC-46A’s sister aircraft, the Boeing 757 with an average of 1,600 flying hours per pilot and extensive Boeing series experience.  This would provide the Wing with immediate interoperability within both the Operations and Maintenance areas, along with existing dual-type pilot ratings and avionics components. These National Guard career fields and other billets are currently manned at 100 percent. 

As mentioned in our previous letter, as a delegation we remain concerned that the Air Force’s KC-46A basing requirements did not include criteria relating to weather conditions and its potential impact on operations.  Yet, JB MDL’s location relieves it from the more severe winter weather experienced in the more northern section of the United States and the Midwest, with many units traveling to the base for training due to unusable conditions at their own installations.  In this tight budget environment, with the high cost of aircraft de-icing and travel fuel, we urge you to give strong consideration to our favorable weather conditions throughout this process.

We appreciate your hard work and deliberation as the location for the KC-46A mission is decided. We remain united in the knowledge that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is the ideal location for KC-46A Mission Operating Base 2.  Location, combat-proven track record, experienced personnel, military value, and outstanding infrastructure would allow a seamless transition.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important issue and your consideration of this New Jersey Congressional delegation request.  Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jennifer Shirley with Rep. Jon Runyan at jennifer.shirley@mail.house.gov or via phone at (202) 225-4765.

 

                                                            Sincerely,

Signatories of this letter were Senators Frank A Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, Congressmen Robert Andrews (01), Frank LoBiondo (02), Jon Runyan (03), Chris Smith (04), Scott Garrett (05), Frank Pallone (06), Leonard Lance (07), Albio Sires (08), Bill Pascrell (09), Donald Payne Jr (10), Rodney Frelinghuysen (11), and Rush Holt (12).

 

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