Congressman Garamendi Supports Travis Air Force Base in Bipartisan Letter on KC-10 Aircraft — Press Release

by: Matthew Potter
October 29, 2013

Category: Business Line, Events, Federal Budget Process, Military Aviation, Services, U.S. Air Force | RSS 2.0

WASHINGTON, DC – With more sequestration budget cuts looming, the Air Force is considering elimination of the entire fleet of KC-10 aircraft, which is key to the military’s aerial refueling mission. Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-03, CA) and Congressman Jon Runyan (R-03, NJ) sent a bipartisan letter urging the Department of Defense to “take off the table this option that would be so detrimental to the strategic capabilities of our military around the world.” A copy of their letter is included at bottom and linked here.

Garamendi, whose district is home to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, and Runyan, whose district is home to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, are both Members of the House Armed Services Committee and the Congressional Mobility Air Forces Caucus.

The KC-10, which entered service in 1981, is the largest refueling aircraft currently in the military’s inventory and has made a significant impact to combat operations and overall mission effectiveness. With almost twice the capacity of the much older KC-135, this airframe is key because it combines the operations of aerial refueling, long range cargo transport, and aerial medical transport in a single aircraft. It can also be refueled itself in flight increasing its delivery range.

Congressman Garamendi said, “The ability to rapidly transport goods and people around the world is essential for our national defense. The KC-10 air refueling fleet serves as the lynchpin for this capability. As there is currently no adequate substitute, this multi-role aircraft must continue to be operated at Travis Air Force Base.”

In an Armed Services Committee hearing and in private conversations with the Air Force last month, Garamendi spoke with Air Force leaders about the importance of the KC-10. Congressman Runyan has also addressed this issue on several occasions with Air Force leadership in recent House Armed Services Committee hearings and conference calls, expressing his strong concerns that the KC-10 not be retired prematurely.

Congressman Runyan said, “The fact that the Air Force is considering eliminating its entire KC-10 fleet is an unnecessary and drastic move that would decrease our military readiness and lead to unacceptable mission risk. The KC-10 is a vital bridge as the new KC-46 tanker comes online. Although I understand the current fiscal constraints, it is especially critical that in this tight budget environment, common sense decisions are made, rather than the drastic “vertical cuts” the Air Force is proposing.”

Text of the bipartisan letter is included here:

October 29, 2013

The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301

Dear Secretary Hagel:

We are troubled by recent news that the Air Force is weighing whether to eliminate its entire KC-10 fleet. We urge you to take off the table this option that would be so detrimental to the strategic capabilities of our military around the world.

We respect that difficult decisions must be made to maintain mission capability within the current fiscal constraints. However, we strongly oppose the divestiture of the KC-10 to meet budget targets. Our nation’s aerial refueling capability is too strategically important to risk.

If the KC-10 were to be retired, the Air Force would be left with only the aging KC-135 to conduct refueling missions until the delivery of the KC-46. Under that scenario, any structural or mechanical problem discovered on a KC-135 could ground the entire refueling fleet leaving our military and the nation quite vulnerable.

The KC-10 is an aircraft with decades of service life remaining and an ongoing integral role to play in our national defense interests. We look forward to productive conversations with you and your staff as you complete budget process and plans for FY 2015 and beyond.


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