Press Release from the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders
The announcement to locate a new generation of military fuel tanker aircraft at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst has been met with full support from the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
“This is great news for Ocean County, for New Jersey and for homeland security,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Military Support Committee. “We are so pleased the Joint Base has been named the preference for this mission.
“We greatly appreciate the ongoing efforts of our Congressmen Chris Smith and Tom MacArthur, our state officials and local leaders and businesses that have worked tirelessly to have the KC-46A aircraft mission come to the Joint Base,” Vicari said. “Being named the preference by the United States Air Force is a great step for the Joint Base.”
The Joint Base was one of five military bases on the short list being considered to house the KC-46A aircraft mission.
With this approval JB-MDL is one of only two bases named to receive the next generation tankers this round. The Air Force announced that Travis Air Force Base in California will also receive 24 KC-46s.
“I am very pleased that the Joint Base is the leader in this process,” said Freeholder John P. Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Joint Base. “I appreciate the work of Congressman Smith, who led our delegation in urging the Air Force to bring this mission here. Congressman Smith along with Congressman MacArthur deserve credit for helping us get to today’s announcement.”
Kelly noted there are good reasons to base these new planes at the Joint Base.
“The base is already home to the older KC-135 and KC-10 tankers, which are both being phased out,” Kelly said. “The men and women here have the knowledge and experience to work with this new generation of aircraft.”
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders on Jan. 11, in a board resolution to the Air Force noted it fully supported the siting of the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker aircraft at the Joint Base and urged the Air Force to consider all aspects of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in its decision, including its current air mobility mission and its superior location for trans-Atlantic operations.
“The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has a long history of support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little.
“This is the nearest airbase to Europe and an ideal location for the deployment of forces overseas and the Middle East,” Little said. “Our Joint Base has a long history and has played a vital role in maintaining our forces around the world. It is critical to our national defense.”
“This Board will continue to work with Burlington County, the state of New Jersey and the federal government with any additional steps in bringing the KC-46A to the Joint Base,” Vicari said. “This mission will help keep the Joint Base viable and a key component to our countries homeland security.”
Vicari noted that Ocean County’s base support includes minimizing encroachments, facilitating community partnerships and supporting the vital missions that are critical to our national defense and community welfare.
“These areas are given our highest priority,” Vicari said.
Kelly, who led the county’s successful effort to protect the base from a federal closing list in both 1995 and 2005, said the KC-46 aircraft play a vital role in keeping our nation’s fighters and bombers airborne.
“Having these new tankers at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would validate the base’s key role in our national defense for decades to come,” Kelly said.
The Freeholders also unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Joint Base’s bid for the new tankers at their Jan. 20th, 2016 public meeting.
The KC-46A is designed to replace the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet. The KC-135 Stratotankers and the KC-10 Extender Aircraft have both been in use for 50 years.
Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. said the base also plays a critical role in the local economy.
“The Joint Base is the second largest employer in the state and contributes more than $6.9 billion to the local economy each year,” Bartlett said. “Basing these new aircraft here is not only vital to our national defense, but to our local regional economy as well.”
Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines said the Joint Base has the infrastructure and facilities needed by the KC-46A tanker.
“The Joint Base is well suited for this mission,” she said. “This is very good news and it’s the result of a lot of hard work from our representatives on all levels of government.”