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Official: Grand Forks Air Force Base 'well postured' for new tankers

Kent Conrad portrait1 / 2
New Grand Forks Air Force Base colonel, Col. Timohty Bush2 / 2

Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., met Thursday with base and city officials to discuss the quest for another tanker mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Col. Timothy Bush, base commander, told Conrad and the rest of the city's Base Retention Committee that the base is "well postured" in its pursuit of the KC-46A refueling tankers.

"Our facilities are some of the best in the Air Force," Bush said.

He highlighted the fact that 547 of the 577 military family homes on the base have been built in the last ten years. The base also has ample ramp infrastructure the tankers would require.

Prior to arrival of RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft in 2011, the base had been home to KC-135 Stratotankers.

To fully accommodate the new tankers, which are larger, Bush said construction of two new hangars and the expansion of another would be required.

Bush also announced the base had its third successful run with a Global Hawk Wednesday.

Conrad said he loved the amount of effort the Grand Forks and base communities were putting into retention efforts. "This base really is a gem," he said.

Of the 16 northern-tier air bases that were considered in for closure, only three made it through, Conrad told the group. "Two of them are here in North Dakota."

A decision on the placement of the tankers is expected this fall, he said.

Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to bjewett@gfherald.com.

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