Walorski Leads Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter to Acting Secretary to Highlight Grissom’s Vital Role in Air Refueling Mission

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (IN-02) today led members of the Indiana congressional delegation in urging the Air Force to consider Grissom Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Miami County as the fifth Main Operating Base for the new KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft.

In a letter to Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth, the members highlighted the many advantages Grissom would offer as a base for KC-46A aircraft, including its history of operations and maintenance excellence, strategic location, capacity to support additional aircraft, strong local and state partnerships, and exceptional employment and educational opportunities in the surrounding community for military families and Reserve Airmen.

“We are proud to have Grissom in our state and are committed to supporting the brave men and women of the Air Force Reserve who serve there,” the members wrote. “In light of the metrics the Air Force has selected, Grissom ARB is an optimal facility to host the KC-46A. Grissom allows for superior mission effectiveness, with proximity to refueling tracks and airspace availability. The base boasts ample capacity to support additional aircraft, including hangar, runway, and ramp capacity, and is located in an exceptionally low-cost area with minimal environmental concerns.”

Walorski was joined by U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun, and U.S. Reps. Frank Mrvan (IN-01), Jim Banks (IN-03), Jim Baird (IN-04), Victoria Spartz (IN-05), Greg Pence (IN-06), André Carson (IN-07), Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08), and Trey Hollingsworth (IN-09) in the letter asking Acting Secretary Roth to give full and fair consideration for basing the KC-46A at Grissom and inviting him to tour the base.

BACKGROUND

Earlier this month, the Air Force announced six candidate bases to host the next KC-46A Reserve component: Grissom ARB in Indiana, Beale Air Force Base in California, Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Field Washington in Maryland, March ARB in California, Niagara Falls ARB in New York, and Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. 

All six bases under consideration are military installations in the continental U.S. with an Air Force Reserve Command-led KC-135 tanker mission and minimum 7,000 feet of runway. A total of 12 KC-46As will replace the KC-135s at one of the six candidate locations. 

The designation would add 190 new jobs to the base, bringing total personnel servicing the 434th Air Refueling Wing to 112 officers, 555 enlisted, and 34 civilians. The preferred locations will be announced this fall. Once a base is selected, full operational capacity is expected to be completed in the second quarter of fiscal year 2027.

The full text of the letter is below. A signed copy of the letter is available here.

Dear Acting Secretary Roth:

As members of the Indiana Congressional delegation, we write to request that you give strong consideration to Grissom Air Reserve Base (ARB) as the fifth KC-46A Main Operating Base (MOB 5). As you know, Grissom ARB plays a vital role in the air refueling mission, which is critical to our national security. We are proud to have Grissom in our state and are committed to supporting the brave men and women of the Air Force Reserve who serve there. As you complete your enterprise-wide look at potential candidate bases for KC-46A MOB 5, a Reserve-led Active Association, we encourage you to consider the many unique advantages Grissom offers as a base for the new tanker.

In light of the metrics the Air Force has selected, Grissom ARB is an optimal facility to host the KC-46A. Grissom allows for superior mission effectiveness, with proximity to refueling tracks and airspace availability. The base boasts ample capacity to support additional aircraft, including hangar, runway, and ramp capacity, and is located in an exceptionally low-cost area with minimal environmental concerns. What sets Grissom apart is its impressive history of operations and maintenance excellence, which allows it to excel in its strategic mission supporting OPLAN 8010. In addition to a strategic location and new Type III fuel hydrant system compatible with the KC-46A, Grissom boasts one of the highest mission completion rates in the country. Further, thanks to strong local and state partnerships, exceptional employment and educational opportunities exist for military spouses as well as Active and Traditional Reserve Airmen in the area surrounding Grissom, where the quality of life and community support are second to none.

Grissom has much to offer the Air Force in terms of continued mission execution, cost savings, and a high-quality workforce, and we would like to invite you to visit the base to see these advantages firsthand. Consistent with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations we respectfully ask that you give full and fair consideration for basing the KC-46A at Grissom, which will leverage the advantages and skill sets of our Total Air Force to defend our nation anywhere in the world.

Sincerely,

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Ranking Member of the House Ethics Committee.

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