Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said April 23 Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael Moseley would like to retain the air refueling mission at Grand Forks Air Force Base (i.e., base new KC-45A tankers there) once its current KC-135s leave. The Grand Forks Herald reported April 24 that Dorgan said Moseley indicated this to him and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D.N.D.) during a meeting in the Pentagon on that same day. “We talked about the potential tanker mission in Grand Forks,” Dorgan told the newspaper, noting that Moseley “continues to have interest in bedding down tankers in Grand Forks.” However the general provided no dates when the new tankers—which haven’t even been built yet—might arrive, Dorgan said. Grand Forks was included in the list of potential bases for the new tanker in the weapon system roadmap that USAF issued in January. The Air Force chose Northrop Grumman’s tanker design, now dubbed the KC-45A, over Boeing’s KC-767 tanker platform in February. USAF could like to start fielding the new tanker in Fiscal 2013, but Boeing has filed a legal protest over the Air Force’s choice, which might impact that schedule. Kansas lawmakers held their own meeting with Moseley in January to press their desire for the new tankers to come to McConnell Air Force Base once its current KC-135s are phased out. They said, at the time, they secured Moseley’s commitment that this would occur. McConnell was also on the roadmap as a potential site of the KC-45A.
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.