Senator Collins Discusses Importance of Maintaining Readiness of 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor

At Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing,

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ Q&A at the Appropriations Subcommittee hearing

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Washington, D.C. – At a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, U.S. Senator Susan Collins questioned Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, and General David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, on what can be done to effectively maintain the readiness of units like the Maine Air National Guard’s (MEANG) 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor, also known as the “MAINEiacs.”


“The 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor has long been a workhorse unit for the Air Force, typically supporting more than 1,000 transient aircrafts annually and deploying personnel at a very high rate worldwide,” said Senator Collins.  “What are we doing to make sure that a workhorse unit like this refueling wing has the resources it needs at a time when it's still deploying individuals at a great rate?”


“I'll tell you that having been pulled out of a lot of really bad places by some courageous tanker crews, many of which I'm sure are at Bangor, I wouldn't be sitting here had it not been for the courage of those crews,” said Gen. Goldfein.


Noting the importance of well-maintained refueling wings, Gen. Goldfein added, “I believe that we are a global force, a global power, because of our global reach, and it's our tankers that give us that.”


During the hearing, Secretary Wilson discussed “The Air Force We Need,” a study that grew out of a department analysis of what is needed in order to fully and effectively implement the National Defense Strategy.  According to Secretary Wilson, the study found that “one of the biggest areas of unmet need, particularly by the time we get to the 2025-2030 timeframe, is in tankers.” 


As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins continues to play a leading role in securing vital funding to support and maintain National Guard aircraft and units.


The MEANG is comprised of a Joint Force Headquarters in Augusta, the 243rd Engineering Installation Squadron and the 265th Combat Communication Squadron both located in South Portland, and the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor.  Members of the 101st Air Refueling Wing deploy at high rates and maintain a high tempo of operations given the heavy air traffic over the northern Atlantic corridor.  In Fiscal Year 2018, the Wing flew over 3,844 hours, processed 942 transient aircraft, and deployed 266 airmen.


Click HERE to read the witnesses’ testimonies.