The last KC-135 of the 912th Air Refueling Squadron is scheduled to depart Grand Forks AFB, N.D., for good on March 16, followed by the unit’s inactivation four days later, according to a base release yesterday. Grand Forks will lose its KC-135 flying mission in 2010 courtesy of BRAC 2005. The 912th ARS is one of the three KC-135 flying units under the base’s 319th Air Refueling Wing, along with the 905th ARS and 906th ARS. Over the past three years, the 912th’s airmen have logged more than 71,000 flying hours, of which 52,000 were in combat, and the unit won the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Trophy in 2007 as the best air refueling squadron in the nation. Once all of Grand Forks’ KC-135s are gone, the base’s only flying mission will be for unmanned aerial vehicles—Predator Bs, which arrived last month, and Global Hawks—unless it is able to secure another manned platform. The North Dakota Congressional delegation seeks to bring the KC-X tanker to Grand Forks. (For more, read yesterday’s Minneapolis Star Tribune report.)
The Air Force pointed out numerous operational and programmatic effects from Congress' inability to approve fiscal 2022 funding. These include hits to programs already underway as well as 16 new starts, plus seven military construction projects. Readiness also is suffering because the funding limits maintenance and exercises.