Reps. John Garamendi and Mike Thompson this week argued for preserving the U.S. Air Force’s fleet of KC-10 tankers, 27 of which are assigned to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.
Defense News recently reported that rumors that the 59-tanker fleet may be eliminated as the Air Force copes with sequestration budget cuts.
Garamendi has advocated for the tankers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing with Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff in a discussion with Gen. Paul Selva, who leads Air Mobility Command, and in a letter to the Air Force.
“I made it clear that the KC-10 tanker is critical for national defense and that until it is replaced by the KC-46 or another Air Mobility Command asset, I expect the KC-10 to continue at Travis Air Force Base,” Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, said in a news release.
Defense News said the fleet of A-10 attack jets, F-15C fighter jets and a planned purchase of new combat search-and-rescue helicopters face may be scrapped.
“You only gain major savings if you cut an entire fleet,” Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, said in an interview with Air Force Times. “You can cut aircraft from a fleet, but you save a lot more money if you cut all the infrastructure that supports the fleet.”
Welsh declined to comment on the future of specific aircraft.
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who represented the base in Congress before redistricting, said sequestration has hurt the economy and weakened national security.
“The KC-10 Extender air-refueling tanker plays an important role for our country’s security and until there is a suitable replacement, the KC-10 needs to stay at Travis Air Force Base,” Thompson said in the news release.
“Instead of keeping the reckless sequestration cuts in place, we need to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction that cuts spending, raises revenue, and creates jobs.”
Garamendi and Thompson have each voted six times to end sequestration.