Menendez, Booker Announce Final Air Force Approval for JBMDL to be Main Operating Base for 24 Next-Gen Refueling Tanker Aircraft

Menendez, Booker Announce Final Air Force Approval for JBMDL to be Main Operating Base for 24 Next-Gen Refueling Tanker Aircraft

Secretary Heather Wilson Gives Final Approval After Air Force Finds No Environmental Impact to Hosting Tankers at JBMDL


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) were notified today by the Secretary of the Air Force that she has finalized selection of New Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) as the Main Operating Base for 24 next generation air refueling tankers—the KC-46A. After years of advocacy by the senators, JBMDL was announced as the host base in January 2017, pending final approval after an environmental impact assessment.

“It’s official!  After years of fighting to win this designation for the joint base, I am thrilled to announce that this morning, the Secretary of the Air Force informed me that our persistence has paid off, and she has officially finalized selection of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst as home to 24 KC-46A refueling aircrafts,” said Senator Menendez. “JBMDL, the nation’s only tri-service base, and the second largest employer in New Jersey, plays an enormous role in our regional and national security, and our economy.  The permanent placement of these aircraft will not only continue to support 42,000 military and civilian jobs, it underscores the importance of JBMDL to the country’s national security as a premier power projection platform.”

“This is great news for New Jersey. Serving as the permanent home for the KC-46A will not only continue to support thousands of jobs at JBMDL and bolster economic opportunity for our state, but also provide the Air Force with advanced capabilities to keep our fleet in the air even longer,” said Senator Booker. “With its strategic location and strong track record, we have long known that JBMDL was the right choice for the KC-46A. This announcement will strengthen our broader national security and is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the men and women at JBMDL. I applaud them for their service to our nation.”

The Air Force will house 24 KC-46As each at JBMDL and Travis Air Force Base in California.

After announcing that JBMDL was selected to house the KC-46As in January 2017, Senator Menendez toured the joint-base and met with base commanders and service members to hear their priorities and concerns, as well as answer questions.

In July 2016, the senators led a delegation letter arguing to the Air Force that JBMDL was best positioned to host the KC-46As based upon its strategic location, existing assets and facilities, and ability to seamlessly and most cost-effectively transition from its current mission.

Sen. Menendez met in March 2016 with Air Force General Carlton Everhart, the commander of the Air Mobility Command, who has jurisdiction over Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), to stress the base’s strategic role and critical mission to our national and regional security.

In 2015, Sen. Booker wrote to Air Force Secretary Deborah James expressing his strong support for JBMDL in hosting the KC-46, and had a follow-up conversation with Secretary James last November to reaffirm his support for JBMDL’s designation.

The Air Force announced in January 2016 that is was moving forward with a replacement plan for its aging fleet of air refueling tankers.  JBMDL was among the final five bases being considered in a nationwide competition for the next basing round for the KC-46A.

The air refueling mission of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command is a core mission at JBMDL, which is home to the 305th Air Mobility Wing (Active Component) that supports the delivery of cargo and personnel to combatant commanders abroad, and the 514th Air Mobility (Reserve Component).  Both units currently fly the KC-10 Extender. The New Jersey Air National Guard’s 108th Air Wing flies the KC-135 air refueling tanker.

JBMDL has more than 88 mission partners, and employs and houses more than 42,000 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and their family members.   It is comprised of almost 4,000 facilities representing $9.3 billion in infrastructure – and is the second largest employer in New Jersey.  Economic analysis reports that JBMDL generates more than $6.9 billion in economic impact for New Jersey every year.