WASHINGTON-Despite efforts by the Obama administration to have another round of efforts to close military bases nationwide in 2015, the mission of Ocean County’s Joint Base MDL (JB-MDL) appears that it will not only continue, but grow. That Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) went nowhere, but the Joint Base’s future remained in jeopardy until this past year when it not only survived threats of a new round of BRAC hearing, it was upgraded to the designation of Main Operating Base (MOB) by the U.S. Air Force.
That is according to U.S. Congressman Chris Smith. With the designation of a Main Operating Base, one of five nationwide, JB-MDL is now slated to receive 24 new KC-46 Pegasus tankers to replace the current fleet of aging KC-10 Extenders.
“Securing this vitally important air refueling mission not only significantly enhances US military power but will ensure the sustainability of the JB from any future closure,” said Smith, Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation who represents a large portion of the installation. “The servicemembers at the Joint Base have truly earned this mission. The skilled human capital that makes the base run, the proven track record of success in ensuring our military has the strategic ability to operate around the world and the strong support of our local communities brings unparalleled capabilities to the Air Force and our national security “Today’s decision is a big win for JB-MDL and a monumental step that will help maintain and secure the base—and its economic impact for New Jersey—for decades to come. It’s quite a day in the history of Joint Base MDL and in New Jersey.”
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 AFB in California will also receive 24 KC-46s.
“This is incredible news for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, the state of New Jersey and the future of national security in the United States,” said Congressman MacArthur. “I am grateful for the contributions and support of Governor Christie, Lieutenant Governor Guadagno, Senators Booker and Menendez, my colleagues in the House, Congressmen Smith and Norcross, as well as the hundreds of elected officials and community members who joined us in the fight to secure the KC-46. This truly was a team effort, and because of that, over 42,000 New Jersey residents in my district who are employed at the base and the thousands of additional jobs in the surrounding area that rely on its survival can breathe easy knowing the Joint Base will remain our nation’s premier air mobility installation by becoming the new home of the KC-46 air-to-air refueling tanker.”
The base’s current 32 KC-10s are continually targeted for retirement and will now be replaced by the new KC-46s. The base also hosts eight KC-135 Stratotankers and 13 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, and other planes and helicopters.
“It is a great day for New Jersey and the Joint Base! When the KC-46A mission is finalized, it will potentially provide mission stability to the Joint Base and provide financial and job security to the surrounding communities that depend on the Base,” said Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. “As the Chairwoman of the New Jersey Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, I’m proud and honored to have worked so closely on this project with the New Jersey Congressional Delegation as well as local leaders from Ocean and Burlington counties. Together, we are the best team in the Nation.”
Last January, the Air Force announced that JB-MDL was one of 11 installations in the running for MOB4, and then made the candidates list of the final five bases announced in June 2016—joined by Dover AFB, Fairchild AFB, Grand Forks AFB, and Travis AFB.