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Thursday, February 4, 2016

NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION -- President Barack Obama's budget, to be released on Tuesday, will include eight KC-135 refueling tankers for the Niagara Air Falls Reserve Station to replace the base’s aging fleet of cargo planes, according to U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (NY-27) and Brian Higgins (NY-26).

Chris Collins
“Being awarded these tankers is vital to ensuring the jobs and long-term success of this base,” said Congressman Collins. “I want to thank my colleague Congressman Higgins and the local community who have been invaluable advocates for the base throughout this process. Today’s news is a significant step towards modernizing the base’s mission, ensuring the base’s long-term success, and making Niagara Falls Air Station BRAC-proof.”

“The KC-135 is a refueling tanker that would provide an enduring mission, protecting the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from closure for years to come,” said Congressman Higgins.  “This is a great victory for the dedicated team at the Niagara Falls base and the Western New York economy.”

The Air Force Reserve Wing at NFARS currently flies C-130 aircraft, which are aged and  vulnerable to retirement, which would have left the Niagara Falls base vulnerable when the next Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) is established.

The refueling fleet is currently being upgraded, and as newer aircraft come online, the KC-135s are being sent to other bases.  Niagara Falls has been chosen by the Air Force as one of the locations to serve in this mission.  Refueling capability is critical for power projection and sustaining operations; it allows combat aircraft to fly longer missions, and allows resupply aircraft and humanitarian relief to reach their destinations.

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.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said "this decision by the Air Force to bring new refueling tankers to the base was the right call to make. I’m proud to have fought alongside Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Congressman Higgins, then-Congresswoman Hochul, and so many others to support NFARS. My administration will continue working to ensure the brave men and women who are stationed there can play a crucial role in our national readiness in the years to come.”

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