Buffalo, N.Y. – Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representatives Brian Higgins and Chris Collins applauded the arrival of KC-135s at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS).
“I was proud to fight to bring the KC-135 fleet to NFARS, and today we will see that vision become a reality. Not only does this mission fulfil a strategic role in our national security, this mission also protects thousands of good-paying jobs for Western New York residents, and provides a boost to the regional economy,” said Senator Schumer. “This $25 million federal investment is money well-spent, keeping people at work and enhancing the mission of NFARS for decades to come.”
“The official arrival of the KC-135s to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is great news for Western New York,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I fought to ensure the return of the KC-135 tankers, urging top Air Force officials to prioritize NFARS for this mission. The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station serves as an invaluable asset to the Air Force and with this new mission, it will continue to remain a strategic base that is vital to our national defense. I am pleased to finally see the KC-135 fleet back at this base, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to push for a KC-135 simulator at NFARS.”
“It is a transformational time for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station with a new mission that meets the needs of today’s United States Air Force,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “We welcome the KC-135 tankers as a symbol of the strength and flexibility of the outstanding professionals at the base. This mission puts the Niagara Falls base in good standing as the threat of a new BRAC looms, and continues active operations that fuel the local economy and supports Western New York jobs.”
“I have fought day and night to ensure the missions at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station are improved and preserved,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “The arrival of the KC-135 mission is vital to the base’s future development and crucial to protecting the thousands of jobs the base contributes to Western New York. I want to thank NIMAC and our state and local partners for their tireless advocacy and support in making this mission a reality.”
Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins and Collins have long fought to bring the KC-135 tanker fleet back to NFARS:
- In July 2015, Schumer met with General McDew, the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) and successfully urged the General to support updating the base’s aircraft transport fleet as well as bring the KC-135 back to NFARS. As the commander of TRANSCOM, General McDew played a leading role in the final decision over which “mission” – or aircraft unit – would be phased in by TRANSCOM. Schumer said that because many bases around the country have already upgraded most of their aircraft, NFARS should be next on the list for updates to its C-130 fleet and the return of the KC-135 fleet, which is now reality.
- 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 October 2015, Higgins, Collins & Slaughter urged General Carlton Everhart, Commander for Air Mobility Command at the U.S. Air Force, to consider the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station as a new base for operation of the KC-135 mission.
- In November 2015, Schumer personally met with General Everhart, Commander of the Air Mobility Command for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and urged him to prioritize NFARS in Western New York as they considered bases for new missions.
- In December 2015, Schumer and Gillibrand announced that they secured a commitment from Lieutenant General Jackson to visit NFARS in person. In May 2016, Lieutenant General Jackson visited NFARS with Schumer and Gillibrand.
- In January 2016, Higgins, Collins & Slaughter sent a letter to Lieutenant General James Jackson, Chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, calling for the proposal to locate a KC-135 mission at NFARS to be included in the Fiscal Year 2017 budget. Higgins and Collins also joined members of the Niagara Military Affairs Council (NIMAC) to publicly push for the measure during a visit to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
- In January 2016, Schumer and Gillibrand called the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and urged her and the USAF to consider NFARS as a home for the KC-135. Both 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 less costs than the building of another station.
- In February 2016, the proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget was released and included conversion to the KC-135 refueling mission for the 914th Air Reserve Wing.
- In March 2016, Higgins, Collins & Slaughter called on House of Representatives Appropriations Committee leaders to support $16.3 million in the Defense Budget to convert the 914th Airlift Wing at NFARS from the C-130 cargo mission to the KC-135 tanker mission.