Smith (R-4th Dist.), whose district includes part of the base, called the Air Force announcement “a big win for the base and a monumental step that will further secure its future and thousands of New Jersey jobs for decades come.” He said the refueling mission “allows the U.S. military to continue to operate across the Atlantic well into the future.”
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the 12 months beginning Oct. 1 includes included $269 million for hangars at the two bases selected for the planes, the Joint Base and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif.
The 24 KC-46 refueling tankers now are scheduled to arrive in 2021, with the second group going to Travis in 2023. The tankers will be assigned to the 305th Air Mobility Wing.
They would replace the KC-10 tankers now stationed at the base.
New Jersey officials had expressed concern that McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst could be targeted in any new round of base closings, as Trump proposed in his budget.
But Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.), whose district also includes part of the joint base, said the presence of the new tankers should protect the facility.
“The future of the base is vital for our national defense and for South Jersey’s economy,” he said. “These tankers will ensure the survival of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the 42,000 New Jersey residents employed there.”
The Joint Base is the second-largest employer in New Jersey, behind only the state government, and contributes $6.9 billion to the local economy, according to Smith.