U.S. Reps. Chris Collins, Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter, along with John Cooper, chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council, today released the following comments after holding a press conference urging President Barack Obama to relocate the KC-135 tanker mission to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station:
"Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has the personnel and critical infrastructure to successfully support the KC-135 mission," Collins said. "I am hopeful that President Obama and the Air Force agree and authorize the KC-135 tanker mission to operate out of the base. On this vital initiative, I am happy to partner with my congressional colleagues, Congressman Higgins and Congresswoman Slaughter, and the Niagara Military Affairs Council, as we work towards modernizing the base's mission, ensuring the base's long-term success, and making the base BRAC-proof."
"The KC-135 tanker mission is a perfect fit (for) the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station," Higgins said. "These aircrafts have a history in Niagara Falls and they should have a future here, as well. Our base is unique in that it possesses key infrastructure and personnel necessary to operate these tankers, meaning a transition would incur minimal costs. As we look at how the station can continue to evolve, strengthen its role and meet the needs of the modern military, I am pleased to join Congressman Collins and the Niagara Military Affairs Council in encouraging the Obama Administration to relocate the KC-135 mission to Niagara Falls."
"As its former representative, I know that Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station helps form the bedrock of American national security and is a major contributor to Western New York's economy," Slaughter said. "That's why our region's bipartisan congressional delegation is united in our effort to bring back the KC-135 mission to Niagara Falls."
"We are fortunate to have a modern and unique military facility here in Western New York," Cooper said. "The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station's ability to support a tanker mission for little financial investment is a tremendous military asset that we believe the Air Force should take advantage of. We appreciate the tremendous support we have received from congressmen Collins and Higgins as we have worked together as a team along with local, state and federal leadership to ensure the long-term viability of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station."
The KC-135 Stratotanker has been the primary refueling aircraft for the United States Air Force for 60 years. The Air Force may be looking to rebase some of the KC-135 tankers as some existing sites transition to the new KC-46.
According to a 2012 report, the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station supports close to 3,300 jobs and has a total economic impact of more than $200 million annually.