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Bipartisan, Bicameral letter calls on U.S. Air Force to re-consider Rickenbacker for KC-46A tanker aircraft

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Washington, April 3, 2014 | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Reps. Steve Stivers (OH-15), Pat Tiberi (OH-12),  Joyce Beatty (OH-3) and Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James expressing strong support for the Ohio Air National Guard’s 121st Air Refueling Wing at Rickenbacker Air Guard Station (AGS) to be selected as  the primary bed down site for a KC-46A “Pegasus” tanker mission.

The Ohio lawmakers’ letter continues the fight for Rickenbacker to win the Air Force’s KC-46A operation, citing “Rickenbacker AGS being well situated to provide responsive support to the significant demand for aerial refueling in the eastern United States and in particular the heavy concentration of fighter and cargo aircraft in the southeast states.”

“As a member of the Ohio Army National Guard, I have spent weekends conducting drill training at Rickenbacker AGS,” said Rep. Steve Stivers.  “There is no doubt in my mind that Rickenbacker is 100 percent capable, willing and prepared to accept this mission.  It is my hope that the United States Air Force seriously consider and select Rickenbacker as the location to base the 121st Air Refueling Wing.”

“Rickenbacker is uniquely located within a one hour flight of 60 percent of the U.S. population, making it strategically situated to fulfill the KC-46’s mission,” said Rep. Pat Tiberi. “Private companies like UPS, FedEx, Cargo Lux, and Cathay Pacific have already taken advantage of Columbus’s central location and tremendous work force, allowing the KC-46 mission to benefit from the preexisting infrastructure. I urge Air Force officials to carefully consider and select Rickenbacker for this mission.”

“Rickenbacker AGS more than meets the necessary qualifications to house the KC-46A tanker mission and has the flexibility to meet future demands,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty.  “In addition, the central Ohio region is second to none with the economic, educational, recreational, and healthcare opportunities it can provide military families to thrive.”

“I continue to urge Air Force officials to strongly consider stationing the KC-46A with the 121st Air Refueling Wing at Rickenbacker AGS,” said Sen. Rob Portman. “Having visited the station earlier this year, I was again reminded that men and women of the 121st Air Refueling Wing continue a lineage of proud service to our national defense and are well-suited to operate this new aircraft from Rickenbacker.” 

“The men and women of the Ohio Air National Guard serve our nation and our state with pride,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown.  “By extending the current mission at Rickenbacker Air Base, we ensure that some of our state’s most highly trained servicemembers have continued mission success and that the surrounding area continues to thrive. I look forward to working with the Air Force as it makes its final selection.”

Rickenbacker is one of five National Guard installations being considered as the preferred alternative site to base a squadron of KC-46A air refueling tankers.  Currently, the Air Force is conducting Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analysis for each base and will make a final determination on the location of the initial site selection later this year.  The Air Force is planning three additional site selections in future years. 

The letter is cosigned by Reps. Steve Stivers, Pat Tiberi, Joyce Beatty and Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.

To read the letter, please click here.



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