WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) – Pease Air National Guard Base in Portsmouth, N.H., has been picked as the top choice in the country to base the Air Force’s new KC-46A tanker, according to a prepared statement from U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

Pending results of an environmental impact study, Pease will be the first Air National Guard unit to receive the next generation tanker, the senators said. The Air National Guard’s 157th Air Refueling Wing is stationed at the base.

“This is great news for Pease and the dedicated members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing,” said Shaheen and Ayotte, who serve as chairwoman and ranking member, respectively, on the Senate Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. “We’re thrilled that the Air Force recognizes Pease’s many strategic advantages as well as the 157th’s exceptional record of service. We’re confident that Pease will continue to provide the best air refueling support in the Air Force for decades to come.”

Col. Paul Hutchinson, commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, said flying the new tanker aircraft out of Pease would provide a boost to the local economy.

“When the final decision is made in the spring of 2014, we expect (an) additional 100 or more full-time jobs at Pease representing approximately 7 million dollars in additional direct payroll into the Seacoast economy and approximately 45 million dollars in military construction contracts over the next several years,” Hutchinson said in the senators’ prepared statement.

The criteria cited in today’s Air Force announcement reflect Pease advantages Shaheen and Ayotte presented to Pentagon officials for more than a year and a half, including Pease’s existing active-duty refueling unit and strategic location in a region of high air-refueling demand. Pease competed for the new tanker against 82 other installations and four other finalists, the senators said.

Pending successful completion of the environmental review, Pease is slated to get 12 of the new tankers beginning in fiscal year 2018, according to Shaheen and Ayotte.


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