Refueling jets could return to Niagara Air Base

NIAGARA, N.Y. (WIVB- The roller coaster ride for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station could be looking up again.

It was about ten years ago when people lined the streets to convince the BRAC Commission to save the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
The Commission allowed some transport planes to stay, but took away the nine KC-130 jets which can refuel other planes in mid flight.

Now there’s an opportunity to get them back. The Military will be updating to a newer type of refueling plane, but will still need a home for using the older jets.
This base still has a $24 million dollar fuel system ready and waiting if those planes come back.

“From the Chief of the Air Force, on down, we have personally delivered detailed information on the air refueling structure that remains here.” said John Cooper of the Niagara Military Affairs Council.

Congressman Chris Collins thinks the Pentagon is getting the message. “Body language has been very positive. One thing about government, you’ll never get a definite until you see it in black and white with a signature on it, but the body language has been very positive.”

Collins and Congressman Brian Higgins just sent a letter to the President urging him to send those soon to be misplaced refueling jets back to their original home.  This base has a new drone mission, but that doesn’t use the runways, and if the military doesn’t maintain the actual runways, the Niagara Falls Airport could close.

Getting back these refueling jets would secure the base and the commercial airport, according to Congressman Brian Higgins. “By securing this, we are again positioning the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to get future missions. So, it’s all about you can’t be complacent.”

President Obama is expected to unveil his Defense Budget plan on February 6, giving an indication of where those KC-135 jets will be headed.

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