Click HERE to watch Sen. Collins’ Q&A on KC-46 basing process.
Washington, D.C. – At a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, U.S. Senator Susan Collins questioned Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall about the President’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget proposal for the Air Force and Space Force.
The Air Force is expected to select the next two Air National Guard Refueling wings to receive new KC-46 refueling tankers by the end of this calendar year.
The Air Force is in the process of recapitalizing its aging air refueling tanker fleet. The average age of the Maine Air National Guard's 10 current KC-135 tankers stationed in Bangor is more than 60 years old. Given its strategic location in the north Atlantic, the Maine Air National Guard would be an ideal unit to host new KC-46’s. In light of a Rand Corporation report that found that the Air Force has not been adequately considering such strategic posture considerations in its basing decisions, Senator Collins stressed the importance of giving the Maine Air National Guard a comprehensive and fair review during the selection process.
Senator Collins said: “As the Air Force begins the process of selecting the next two Air National Guard refueling wings to receive new KC 46 tankers, it is important that the Air Force ensure that the national defense strategy and the Air Force's Arctic strategy inform the basing decisions…As you know, the Maine National Guard Air Refueling Wing in Bangor is a vital strategic location at our most traversed, transatlantic air refueling tracks. Will you ensure a clear focus on the Air Force's strategic posture as the service conducts its basing analysis as well as ensure that the Bangor Air National Guard Base, which has such an extraordinary record, is given a fair review in that…process?”
Secretary Kendall responded: “The short answer to your question is yes. Bangor in particular's base has a great deal of utility to the Department. We look at a variety of factors in making basing decisions, but mission capability and cost are two at the top of the list, and mission capability does include strategic considerations as you indicated. We do expect to make a decision on the locations for the next two KC-46 allocations sometime later this calendar year.”
In January, Senator Collins led the Maine delegation and Governor in sending a letter to Secretary Kendall and General David Hokanson, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, advocating for Bangor’s selection for the new KC-46 aircraft.