Editorial: Travis AFB is the Right Home for the KC-46A
July 4, 2016
If selected, what a perfect new home Travis Air Force Base would be for the KC-46A. Long considered the “Gateway to the Pacific,” there would be no more suitable base.
Travis has been named as one of the five bases being considered to house the tanker. Other candidate bases include Dover Air Force Base, Del.; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
United States Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Cox, commander of the 18th Air Force at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, said during Tuesday’s command change at Travis that, the US’s military focus has seen “a significant shift to the west,” an allusion to President Obama’s 2012 “pivot to East Asia” regional strategy, a key area of action being the strengthening of bilateral security alliances and deepening working relationships with emerging powers.
From that, it would be apparent that a western base would be preferred and leaves Travis in competition with Fairchild AFB in Washington. But the Air Mobility Command (AMC) is expected to conduct detailed site surveys for each candidate base and assess each against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower. AMC also is set to develop cost estimates to house the tankers at each base. An announcement is expected by the end of the year.
According to a press release from the Air Force, the refueler tankers are slated to arrive at the “second active duty-led global mobility wing” during the 2020 fiscal year.
The KC-46A, officials said, offers “improved capability ... worldwide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability and multipoint air refueling capability.”
In a prepared statement, Congressman John Garamendi, D-Solano, expressed his excitement with the possibility of Travis becoming a KC-46A base. He has plenty of clout in Washington and has plenty at stake with the base in his district.
“Throughout the next few months, the Air Force will be conducting site surveys at each of the candidate bases. I doubt that the Air Force will find a better site than Travis: it has the infrastructure, the personnel, and the community support that make it the best choice,” said the congressman. “We expect the list of five bases to be narrowed down at the end of this year, with the final announcement to be made in late 2017.
“Until there is a final basing decision, the KC-10 fleet will remain at Travis AFB. The strategic basing process is long, and I appreciate the Air Force remaining transparent and forthcoming as decisions are made. I am proud to represent both Beale and Travis AFB, and supporting the vital missions they carry out every day remains one of my top priorities in Congress.”
Let’s hope the right decision is made and Travis AFB, “the Gateway to the Pacific,” becomes the new home to the KC-46A.