Smith, Delegation Worked for Years to Back New Mission
Competitive Selection Underscores the Joint Base’s Value and Key Mission Going Forward
WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) announced today that the Air Force has chosen Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB-MDL) to host the next generation KC-46 refueling tankers. With the designation of a Main Operating Base (MOB), JB-MDL is now slated to receive 24 new KC-46 Pegasus tankers to replace the current fleet of KC-10 Extenders.
“Securing this vitally important air refueling mission not only significantly enhances US military power but will ensure the sustainability of the JB from any future closure,” said Smith, Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation who represents a large portion of the installation. “The servicemembers at the Joint Base have truly earned this mission. The skilled human capital that makes the base run, the proven track record of success in ensuring our military has the strategic ability to operate around the world and the strong support of our local communities brings unparalleled capabilities to the Air Force and our national security “Today’s decision is a big win for JB-MDL and a monumental step that will help maintain and secure the base—and its economic impact for New Jersey—for decades to come. It’s quite a day in the history of Joint Base MDL and in New Jersey.”
With this approval JB-MDL is one of only two bases named to receive the next generation tankers this round. The Air Force announced that Travis AFB in California will also receive 24 KC-46s.
Smith, who led the delegation letter urging the Air Force to designate JB-MDL in July 2016, has repeatedly stressed that the installation is the ideal location for the new tankers: it is the nation’s only tri-service joint installation; is home to over 80 mission partners that includes active duty, Reserve and Guard units; and is Air Mobility Command’s premier East Coast refueling hub that enables U.S. global reach around the world.
“Our delegation has worked hard—with our partners in the State, including the Governor, the Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, and New Jersey National Guard Adjutant General Michael Cunniff—to highlight the Joint Base’s capabilities and strong record of demonstrating its mission-critical value to national security,” said Smith. Click here to read a letter to the Air Force from Lt. Gov. Guadagno and Gen. Cunniff. “The Air Force decision validates what we have said: the Joint Base is and will continue to be a critical asset to the Air Force and America’s ability to respond rapidly to humanitarian or military operations across the globe.”
“It is a great day for New Jersey and the Joint Base! When the KC-46A mission is finalized, it will potentially provide mission stability to the Joint Base and provide financial and job security to the surrounding communities that depend on the Base,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “As the Chairwoman of the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, I’m proud and honored to have worked so closely on this project with the New Jersey Congressional Delegation as well as local leaders from Ocean and Burlington counties. Together, we are the best team in the Nation.”
The base’s current 32 KC-10s are continually targeted for retirement and will now be replaced by the new KC-46s. The base also hosts eight KC-135 Stratotankers and 13 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, and other planes and helicopters.
Last January, the Air Force announced that JB-MDL was one of 11 installations in the running for MOB4, and then made the candidates list of the final five bases announced in June 2016—joined by Dover AFB, Fairchild AFB, Grand Forks AFB, and Travis AFB.
JB-MDL is the largest employer in the region, second only to the State of New Jersey as the largest employer in the Garden State, and contributes $6.9 billion annually to the regional economy.