Lawmakers push to relocate KC-135 Tanker Mission to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Officials representing the people of western New York are putting pressure on President Barack Obama to keep the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station utilized to its fullest potential.

As Reps. Chris Collins, Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter met with Niagara Falls military officials on Friday, they detailed their plan to keep the Niagara Falls Air Reserve station an active hub. The station employs 3,300 people locally and has an economic windfall of $200 million each year.

“I am hopeful that President Obama and the Air Force agree and authorize the KC-135 tanker mission to operate out of the base,” Collins said.

KC-135 aircraft are the refueling aircraft most used by the U.S. Air Force, but with newer models like the KC-46 being rolled out, KC-135’s are being displaced.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station could serve as the new home for KC-135’s, but also keep the station active and serving a purpose.

“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,” John Cooper, the Niagara Military Affairs Council chairman, said. ”

Officials say the station is specifically equipped and ready to take on the mission, and has the available space after the C-130 mission was transferred out of the station.

A joint letter requesting the new mission has been sent to Lieutenant General James Jackson, who is chief of the Air Force Reserve.

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