Top Air Force General Commits to Looking at Alaska for Future KC-46 Basing, Says “Alaska is Strategic”

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) today received the commitment of General David Goldfein, nominee to be chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, to travel to Alaska in his first year, should he be confirmed, and to look seriously at basing the KC-46 fuel tanker in Alaska in the upcoming Air Force decision. The exchange took place in a confirmation hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“With the Air Force’s recent decision to base two squadrons of F-35As at Eielson, placing the Air Force’s newest tanker aircraft in close proximity to our newest fighters – including the F-22s at JBER – just makes strategic sense,” said Senator Sullivan. “Taking into account Alaska’s strategic location, its rising role as the hub of combat air power for the Asia Pacific, world-class training areas, three Red Flag exercises each year, and more than one hundred fifth-generation fighters, the case for basing the KC-46 tanker at JBER or Eielson has never been stronger. I thank General Goldfein for acknowledging the unique military and geo-strategic qualities Alaska brings to the table, and I look forward to continuing the discussion on how to use Alaska’s advantages for the Air Force’s benefit.”

Below is a transcript of the exchange between Sen. Sullivan and Gen. Goldfein: 

Sullivan: “But what do you look at in terms of characteristics for basing OCONUS (Outside the continental United States) KC-46s?”

Goldfein: “Sir, we have a set criteria at a basing process that first lays out criteria. We share that criteria with the delegations and then we score bases based on that criteria that then produces a preferred candidate list. The preferred candidate list is where we actually then begin our site surveys.”

Sullivan: “I’ll throw out a couple characteristics that I think are important: strategic location, hub of air combat power for the Asia-Pacific, world-class training areas, 24-7 NORAD mission that routinely intercepts Russian bombers, three Red Flag exercises a year, over a hundred fifth-generation fighters located there; C-17s, C-130s, F-16s. Do those sound like important characteristics?”

Goldfein: “Yes, sir.”

Sullivan: “Do you know what place I’m describing?”

Goldfein: “Yes sir, and I think it was Billy Mitchell was right, it’s strategic, Alaska is strategic.”

Sullivan: “So he called it ‘the most strategic place in the world.’ Is that important in terms of KC-46 basing?”

Goldfein: “Sir, it’s actually important across all the mission sets of the United States Air Force.”

Sullivan: “So can I get your commitment to take a very serious look at that when you’re making the OCONUS decision to take a look at Billy Mitchell’s place that he called ‘the most strategic place in the world’ as part of that?”

Goldfein: “Yes, sir. Yes, sir. You have it.”