Final decision yet to be made on tankers coming to Grand Forks Air Force BaseGrand Forks Air Force Base could still get flying tankers back, but Sen. Kent Conrad’s office is underplaying an Air Force Times report that seemed to suggest that the base is more or less in line for the new aircraft.
By: Tu-Uyen Tran, Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Air Force Base could still get flying tankers back, but Sen. Kent Conrad’s office is underplaying an Air Force Times report that seemed to suggest that the base is more or less in line for the new aircraft.
“We believe GFAFB is in the running and Sen. Conrad will work hard to ensure tankers come to GFAFB,” Sean Neary, the North Dakota Democrat’s spokesman, said by e-mail. “However, no final decisions have been made.”
The Air Force Times, a privately-owned newspaper, cited a document that the Air Force submitted during the search for an aircraft to replace the ancient KC-135 Stratotankers. Four of the new tankers, called KC-46As, are “tentatively scheduled” to be sent to Grand Forks. The document lists 10 other bases and the number of tankers they’d eventually get. The Times added that “final decisions on basing have not been made.”
Its report was part of a story about the Pentagon finally awarding a contract for flying tankers to Boeing after trying for nearly a decade.
According to Conrad’s office, the list of bases was meant to help bidders understand tanker operation costs and was likely submitted a while ago as part of the contracting process.
Until December, Grand Forks had been home to KC-135s since around the time it opened in the 1960s. As part of the 2005 base realignment and closure round, the Pentagon decided to remove the aerial refueling mission from Grand Forks. The state’s Congressional delegation and state and local leaders have been trying to get the mission back.