"Throughout the process, we remained confident that after a careful and objective review of the 108th's strengths, assets, and capabilities, the Air Force would see that [the joint base] is an ideal location for Main Operating Base Two," U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) said in a statement Wednesday.
"These and other efforts are part of our deliberate and concerted strategy to bring new and grow existing missions at the Joint Base to enhance our national security and fuel our central New Jersey economy," Smith said.
The tankers would mean more jobs and economic activity in the area, officials said. Most of the New Jersey Guard members live in the Philadelphia area and South Jersey.
The KC-46A will have "enhanced refueling capacity and capabilities . . . as compared to the KC-135R," Gen. Mark Welsh 3d, Air Force chief of staff, said in a statement.
The 108th Wing and the New Jersey National Guard "have unique abilities, and are ready and willing to perform this critical new mission," Smith said. "The joint base remains the nation's only tri-service joint installation and hosts active, Reserve, and Guard units."
Last year, after the Air Force approved the criteria being used to select the installations, Smith said, he and the New Jersey congressional delegation worked with state National Guard officials to ensure the best case was presented to decision-makers.
The new tankers will replace the aging refueling fleet, including the KC-135R models flown by the 108th Wing. A final decision is expected in spring 2014.
Welsh said the KC-46A tankers were part of the first phase of a three-phase effort to replace more than 400 KC-135 and 59 KC-10 aircraft.
Contact Edward Colimore at 856-779-3833 or email@example.com.