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A C-17 Globemaster is lined up for a refuel from a KC-10 Extender fuel plane during a 2009 training mission. (Daily Republic file 2009)


Travis supporters vow to fight scrapping of KC-10 fleet

By From page A1 | September 20, 2013

FAIRFIELD — Travis Community Consortium chairman Bud Ross said he is hearing too much from different military commanders to consider the Air Force’s potential scrapping of its KC-10 fleet “to be a hollow threat.”

The consortium, which is made up of local government and business groups that lobby for Travis’ needs, has put its concerns about the future of the Air Force’s KC-10 air tanker fleet and its effect on Travis at the top of its agenda.

Its members and representatives spent the past week in contact with the area’s congressional delegates, “and we will continue to do that,” Ross said.

“We will keep trying to take our message to the elected officials because they are the only ones who can turn this thing around,” Ross said.

Members of the region’s congressional delegation, such as Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, have already come out against the cuts, with Garamendi saying the KC-10s need to stay on duty until the KC-46s are delivered.

Ross said budget pressures must be fierce if the Air Force is considering cutting out the KC-10 fleet, but eliminating the KC-10s “would leave a big gap in our capabilities.”

“I don’t know how we could meet the type of operations tempo that we are undertaking now with that airplane and the KC-46, the replacement air tanker Boeing is currently building, a long way from being bedded down,” Ross said.

This comes after news reports about measures the Air Force is examining in order to deal with required billions of dollars in budget cuts the military is expecting to endure during the next decade as the result of federal cuts. Recent reports in media such as the Air Force Times and DefenseNews.com, as well as testimony Wednesday in the House Armed Services Committee, has seen the idea of retiring the 59-aircraft KC-10 fleet as one way to cost costs.

Travis Air Force Base is home to 27 of the KC-10s, considered the workhorse air tanker for military operations at home and overseas. Travis’ Public Affairs Office declined to speculate on what effect the loss of the KC-10s would have, since it is not yet a specific proposal.

Community leaders were not so shy.

Fairfield City Manager Sean Quinn on Thursday said Travis is the largest employer in Fairfield and Solano County, with a $1.6 billion financial impact on the region last fiscal year. He said retirement of the KC-10 would have hurt local spending.

The precise financial impact is not known yet, Quinn said.

He recalled a reduction in operations at the base about three decades ago when his sister lived in Vacaville.

“She had a very hard time selling her house,” Quinn said.

According to an Air Force Magazine report, Air Mobility Command head Gen. Paul Selva said at a press conference Tuesday at the Air Force Association’s 2013 Air and Space Conference that the Air Force may have to cut and lose the KC-10 fleet so that the service can pay for bringing in the new KC-46, the first of which has yet to be delivered.

Selva said such a cut is one of the options the Air Force is considering and that the KC-10’s retirement could be “how we make the investment dollars available to keep the KC-46 moving on its current schedule. And we intend to do that,” according to the Air Force Magazine article.

Selva pointed out there could be an option where the KC-10s could be retired as the KC-46s are delivered. The first KC-46 is expected to fly in 2015. Boeing is expected to deliver 18 of the tankers by August 2017 and the Air Force expects to get 179 tankers by 2028, according to an Air Force fact sheet.

Travis supporters are still worried, since the Air Force would not be fielding such ideas “unless they were in dire straits,” Ross said.

Losing the KC-10 from Travis without a replacement would mean the base loses its aerial refueling mission, “and that is a pretty prestigious one and we would be down to one mission (air transport),” Ross said.

“The danger of being a one-mission base is that it makes us even more vulnerable for a drawdown in the future,” Ross said. “I am not saying that would happen, but Travis would be more vulnerable.”

It doesn’t help that Congress has been unwilling to make decision to cut out excess bases that the military has been saying it has, Ross said.

Ryan McCarthy contributed to this report. Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson

Ian Thompson has worked for the Daily Republic longer than he cares to remember. A native of Oregon and a graduate of the University of Oregon, he pines for the motherland still. He covers Vacaville and Travis Air Force Base for the Daily Republic. He is an avid military history buff, wargamer and loves the great outdoors.

Discussion | 5 comments

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  • Rich GiddensSeptember 19, 2013 - 6:42 pm

    Your Travis supporters only like a GI's money and the GI's hate your disgusting State and horrible community. Yes, scrap the 10s and send the KC46 to South Carolina, Hawaii and Washington State. Defund California and teach it another terrible lesson!

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  • John TakeuchiSeptember 20, 2013 - 8:26 am

    Sequestration is deriving this reaction -- make no mistake about it. And who pushed sequestration? If you say, Congressmen Garamendi and Thompson -- and started by President Obama -- you have been keeping track. Their objection to the KC-10 cut is just obfuscation. If the Congress stayed within its Constitutional authority, military readiness would be the last place to make cuts. Instead, gone would be the Department of Education, Homeland Security, and most others. Hollowing out our military is one of Obama's programs. It will continue until he's gone or Dems and RINOs no longer control the Congress.

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  • Rich GiddensSeptember 20, 2013 - 2:30 pm

    You're wasting your breath Colonel---the people here don't understand what a hollow military is nor do they understand the consequences of losing a war. They just want a welfare or government do-nothing job check. Business here likes that GI dollar but hates the GI. Teach 'em a lesson----send the aircraft to other States where they belong and let the Bay Area rot like Detroit.

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  • Danny BuntinSeptember 20, 2013 - 11:03 pm

    KC-10 meets Agenda 21, coming up next on the Twilight Zone. Your comment gave me a chuckle.

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  • Rich GiddensSeptember 20, 2013 - 8:28 am

    Scrap it and scrap it good. Send the Gucci Boy Squadrons back to where they came from. Don't base the KC46's in California either. Base them in Washington State, New Jersey and perhaps Hawaii. Those airplanes should be primarily based at bases in more northerly latitudes so they may more efficiently aerial refuel cargo and fighter aircraft flying northern ''great circle'' routes to Europe, Asia and the middle east.

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