Menendez, Military Leaders Break Ground for New Aircraft Coming Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehust

Menendez, Military Leaders Break Ground for New Aircraft Coming Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehust

Senator led fight to secure KC-46A next-gen air refueling tankers


JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined command leaders at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL) and members of the Defense Enhancement Coalition to break ground on a $146.5 million construction project that will build out new aircraft hangars and other infrastructure to house 24, next-generation mid-air refueling aircraft, the KC-46A Pegasus.  The new tankers will ensure the long-term viability of the Joint Base, maintain base’s critical national security mission, and secure hundreds of construction jobs.  Sen. Menendez led the effort to secure the new mission and federal resources for JBMDL. 


“Today is a great day for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, for New Jersey, and for the nation,” said Sen. Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  “It’s a day we have worked toward for years.  As we break ground on the hangars for the new KC-46A tankers, we send a powerful message that says the future of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is brighter than ever.  These KC-46A tankers will enhance the Joint Base’s strategic value as the East Coast hub for Air Mobility Command’s refueling and air lift missions, and the infrastructure we break ground on today is critical to our military preparedness.”



Today’s ceremony was attended by some 300 military personnel, honorees and guests including: Congressmen Donald Norcross (N.J.-01) and Chris Smith (N.J.-04); Air Force Major General John Gordy II, Expeditionary Center Commander; Col. Neil Richardson, Joint Base Commander; Col. Jacqueline Breeden, 305th Air Mobility Wing Commander; Col. Thomas Pemberton, 514 Air Mobility Wing Commander; and Col. Mike Warner, Emil Kaunitz, Dave McKeon, Rich Haydinger, and Danna Lancalotta of the Defense Enhancement Coalition.


Over 52,000 people currently live, work or train at the Joint Base, New Jersey’s second largest employer whose mission is vital to both our national security and the state’s economy.  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, which is being phased out. The New Jersey Air National Guard’s 108th Air Wing flies the KC-135 air refueling tanker.


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.  That May, the senator led a letter requesting a combined $158 million to both support the new KC-46As and to expand the base’s Navy Reserve airfield, which was included in the final FY18 military spending bill to further JBMDL’s mission as a power projection platform. 




In July 2016, Sen. Menendez 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.  Throughout the process, the Senator continuously met with Air Force generals about the refueling mission, touting JBMDL’s role in the nation’s national defense, and the importance of keeping the refueling mission in this strategic location.


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 his continued commitment to the Joint Base and its personnel, Sen. Menendez hosted U.S. Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer in August for a tour of Lakehurst Navy Base’s critical mission.  The Aircraft Division at Lakehurst provides full, life-cycle support of naval aviation aircraft, weapons and systems operated by sailors and marines.  The Division supports research, development, test, evaluation, engineering and fleet support of Navy and Marine Corps air vehicle systems and trainers.  While at Lakehurst the Senator and Secretary toured the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System; Advanced Arresting Gear System; Expeditionary Airfield; and Aviation Data Management and Control System.


Sen. Menendez also led the fight to increase the pay for hundreds of JBMDL civilian employees by convincing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to correct a long-running pay disparity among workers from the lower Philadelphia wage area and the higher New York wage area, ensuring commensurate wages.  The pay gap was created when operations at McGuire Air Force Base and Fort Dix in the Philadelphia region were consolidated in 2009 with Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst in the New York region.  Today, all civilian employees at the Joint Base are paid under the New York compensation schedule.


JBMDL has more than 88 mission partners, and employs and houses more than 44,000 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. 




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