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Fairchild Meeting in Spokane Provides New Intrigue


What was to have been a rather routine open house in Spokane tonight (Thursday) has become a much more interesting event.

The Air Force had scheduled to hold an open house to discuss the siting of a new home for new KC-46A  air refueling tankers. Fairchild was in the running. But news broke today that the decision about the new home may have already been made.

Before today, Fairchild was reputed to be one of five finalists to house the new generation of tankers. But in an email to GSI members today, CEO Todd Mielke broke the news that the Air Force briefed Congressional members this morning, saying the service considered bases in New Jersey and California to be the finalists for the second home for the KC-46A tankers. McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas was the first to be chosen two years ago.

Washington U.S. Senator Patty Murray was among those who reacted and she was not amused. She had lobbied for Fairchild to land the coveted post, calling it the best choice among the finalists to provide the Air Force some geographic balance for its tanker bases. She says she will push the Air Force to explain why it made this decision.

Meanwhile, Air Force officials are holding an open house at the Lincoln Center from 5-8 PM this evening to talk about the process of choosing the second home for the KC-46A. Mielke urged his organization’s members to attend to stress the Spokane community’s support for Fairchild and to talk about its ability to handle the new planes.