U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that following their push, the Senate version of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorizes $14 million in federal funding for the construction of a new training center for Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) in Niagara County. The senators said the new funding will allow NFARS’ pilots to train and complete physical requirements. The senators vowed to fight to secure funding for the project in the Senate through the appropriations process. They added that ensuring that NFARS has the tools and resources it needs is vital to national security and to Western New York’s economy.
“NFARS trains some of the nation’s best and bravest pilots. The only way to keep our men and women in uniform mission-ready is to give them the resources they need to continue their training,” said Senator Schumer. “This $14 million authorization, which clears the way for a new training center, will allow NFARS to continue its elite pilot training and ensure that NFARS’ legacy of excellence is continued. As Senate Democratic Leader, I vow to keep pushing through the appropriations process for greater investments in NFARS so that it has the tools it needs to maintain mission readiness.”
“The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station plays a critical role in our national defense, and this authorization would help expand NFARS’ facilities so they can continue providing top-notch training to the pilots who keep our nation safe,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “In addition to being an invaluable asset to the Air Force, NFARS also helps support jobs and the local economy in Western New York. I am very pleased that the Senate has passed this funding to help units from around the country train for their missions at Niagara Falls and I will continue fighting to ensure NFARS has the resources it needs.”
The senators said NFARS has a total economic impact of more than $143 million, making it an indispensable part of Niagara County’s economy, as well as the County’s largest employer. Schumer and Gillibrand said the construction of the new training center will help improve mission readiness by giving soldiers a space to continue their physical training.
Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, and to ensure that the base maintains its status as an elite training center and base for Air Force pilots and other personnel. Additionally, for years the Senators fought tirelessly to bring the KC-135 tanker mission to NFARS. In October 2015, Schumer and Gillibrand urged Lieutenant General James Jackson, Chief of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Reserve, to consider the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) as the next home for KC-135 tankers.
In January 2017, Schumer and Gillibrand called then Secretary of the Airforce Deborah Lee James and urged Secretary James and the USAF to consider NFARS as a home for the KC-135. Schumer and Gillibrand presented a clear case for why NFARS was the most logical base for the KC-135. Schumer and Gillibrand cited the Defense Logistics Agency’s report that such a transition was possible and that construction to alter NFARS’s existing tanker infrastructure would cause the USAF to incur far fewer costs than the building of another station.
In November 2015, Schumer and Gillibrand personally met with General Everhart, Commander of the Air Mobility Command for the U.S. Air Force, and urged him to prioritize the NFARS in Western New York as they were considering bases for new missions. Additionally, in December 2015, Schumer and Gillibrand announced that they secured a commitment from the Lieutenant General Jackson to visit NFARS in person.