PORTSMOUTH - Pease Air National Guard Base has been selected as the top Air National Guard base to receive the new KC-46A tanker, U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., announced Wednesday morning.
Pending results of an environmental impact study, Pease, home to the 157th Air Refueling Wing, will be the first Air National Guard unit to receive the next generation tanker.
Col. Paul Hutchinson, commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing said when the final decision is made in the spring of 2014 they expect to add an additional 100 or more full-time jobs at Pease, representing about $7 million in additional direct payroll into the Seacoast economy and about $45 million in military construction contracts over the next several years.
In January, the Air Force announced that Pease was one of five Air National Guard finalists to receive the KC-46A, which will replace the Eisenhower-era KC-135 tankers. Air Force officials visited Pease in February to assess its competitiveness to receive the new tanker.
"This is great news for Pease and the dedicated members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing," Shaheen and Ayotte said in a joint statement. "We're thrilled that the Air Force recognizes Pease's many strategic advantages as well as the 157th's exceptional record of service. We're confident that Pease will continue to provide the best air refueling support in the Air Force for decades to come."
Major General Bill Reddel, adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard, said the KC-46 represents an improvement in all respects over the current KC-135 tanker which has been the "cornerstone of global reach and global power."
"Quieter, more fuel efficient, and adaptable to multiple missions it will provide the best value to our taxpayers," Reddel said. "Basing the KC-46 at Pease Air National Guard Base will leverage the advantages and skill sets of the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force to defend our nation anywhere in the world."
Shaheen and Ayotte have worked together over the past year and a half to highlight Pease's unique advantages and the impressive record of the New Hampshire Air National Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing to Air Force officials.
Some of the criteria cited in Wednesday's Air Force announcement included Pease's successful existing active-duty association, low active duty manpower requirements, and strategic location in a region of high air refueling receiver demand.
The Air Force will now begin an Environmental Impact Analysis of the base, and, pending a successful outcome, Pease is slated to receive 12 of the new aircraft beginning in fiscal year 2018.