U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with the entire Ohio Congressional delegation, sent a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh expressing their “strong support for the Ohio National Guard’s 121st Air Refueling Wing based at Rickenbacker Air Guard Station (AGS)” to be selected as the primary site for the new KC-46A refueling aircraft.
Earlier this month, the Air Force announced that Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base near Columbus is one of five Air National Guard bases selected as a finalist for eventual receipt of 12 of the new KC-46A refueling aircraft set to replace the KC-135. Those five bases will now be compared to one another and a final decision will then be made. A preferred base and alternative base will be announced by May 1, 2013, and after further analysis a final decision will be made by Spring 2014.
In the letter, the Senators and Congressmen tout the value of the men and women of the 121st Air Refueling Wing and the capabilities at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, stating, “The men and women of the 121st Air Refueling Wing continue a lineage of proud service to our national defense spanning over seventy years. These Guardsmen stand ready to fulfill any mission assigned to them, and have a proven track record of exemplary performance in the air refueling mission. The Guardsmen have provided superior support to operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. Following the Libya no-fly zone UN resolution, the 121st was among the first units to respond within hours to rapidly developing tanker requirements.”
In addition, they highlight the geographical advantage the 121st has to offer, pointing out that, “Rickenbacker AGS is well located to provide responsive support to the significant demand for aerial refueling in the eastern United States and in particular the heavy concentration of fighter and cargo aircraft in the southeast states.”
Even more, Rickenbacker AGS’ existing infrastructure and strong support from the local community make it well-suited to accept the 12 KC-46A aircraft.