Kelly Leads Arizona Congressional Delegation in Urging Air Force to Consider Phoenix Base as Home for the KC-46 Aircraft

Last week, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly led the Arizona congressional delegation in urging U.S. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall to consider the 161st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in Phoenix as the future home of the KC-46 tanker aircraft.

In a letter to Secretary Kendall, the group highlights the combat air power installations based in Arizona, including the 56th Fighter Wing’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter training mission at Luke Air Force Base (AFB), the 162nd Wing’s F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission at Morris ANGB, the 55th Electronic Combat Group’s Compass Call mission, 563rd Rescue Group, and the future Power Projection Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB). Additionally, they underscore the importance of air refueling to train the best pilots.

“As you know, the 161st ARW currently has the highest demand for air refueling of any tanker Wing in the Air Force, with an average of 32 aircraft within a 30-minute flight, about 20 more average aircraft than the next closest Wing. Arizona is at the center of the largest area of unmet air refueling demand – demand that will soon grow,” the lawmakers said.

They continue, “As air refueling demand increases, the 161st ARW is the prime candidate to host the KC-46 aircraft. Over the last four years, the 161st ARW has flown 568 sorties in support of federal Title 10 missions, showcasing its relevance to not only the Guard and State missions, but the federal mission as well. […] “We are in support of basing decisions that ensure the Air Force is capable of meeting the Department of Defense’s requirements for national security missions. The 161st ARW is an important piece of that strategy, its advantageous location in a large and growing area should not be overlooked.”

In addition to Kelly, other co-signers of the letter are Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Representatives Ruben Gallego, Andy Biggs, Greg Stanton, Debbie Lesko, Eli Crane, Juan Ciscomani, and Paul Gosar.

Read the full letter here.