Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER - The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders wants the United States Air Force to know there are many good reasons to assign a new generation of military fuel tanker aircraft to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
"There are many, many good reasons to base these new planes at the Joint Base," said Freeholder John P. Kelly, who serves as liaison to the Joint Base. "The base is already home to the older KC-135 and KC-10 tankers, which are both being phased out. The men and women here have the knowledge and experience to work with this new generation of aircraft."
The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders in a board resolution to the Air Force noted it fully supported the siting of the new KC-46A aerial refueling tanker aircraft at the Joint Base and urged the Air Force to consider all aspects of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in its decision, including its current air mobility mission and its superior location for trans-Atlantic operations.
The Joint Base is one of five military bases being considered to house the KC-46A aircraft mission. The United States Air Force is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement as part of the assessment of the bases being considered. An open house, public scoping meeting has been scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m., Jan. 17 at the New Hanover Township Senior Center in Cookstown.
"We want to make sure this Board is part of the record of these proceedings and the Air Force is aware of our interest in housing this mission at the Joint Base," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Military Support Committee. "The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has a long history of support for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Lakehurst Naval Air Engineering Station.
"This Board will continue to work with Burlington County, the state of New Jersey and the federal government in keeping the Joint Base viable and a key component to our countries homeland security," he said.
He noted that Ocean County's efforts include minimizing encroachments, facilitating community partnerships and supporting the vital missions that are critical to our national defense and community welfare.
"These areas are given our highest priority," Vicari said.
Kelly, who led the county's successful effort to protect the base from a federal closing list in both 1995 and 2005, said the new mission could keep the base open for decades to come.
"These aircraft play a vital role in keeping our nation's fighters and bombers airborne," Kelly said. "Having these new tankers at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would validate the base's key role in our national defense for decades to come."
The Freeholders also unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Joint Base's bid for the new tankers at their Jan. 20th 2016 public meeting.
The KC-46A is designed to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet. The KC-135 Stratotankers and the KC-10 Extender Aircraft have both been in use for 50 years.
Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little said the Joint Base is the logical choice for the new planes because its East Coast location is closest to Europe and Africa.
"This is the nearest airbase to Europe and an ideal location for the deployment of forces overseas and the Middle East," Little said. "Our Joint Base has a long history and has played a vital role in maintaining our forces around the world."
Ocean County Freeholder John C. Bartlett Jr. said the base also plays a critical role in the local economy.
"The Joint Base is the second largest employer in the state and contributes more than $6.9 billion to the local economy each year," Bartlett said. "Basing these new aircraft here is not only vital to our national defense, but to our local regional economy as well."
Kelly noted that Ocean County is closely working with Congressman Tom MacArthur on this effort.
"We are working together to make certain Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is considered as the ideal location for the placement of the new tanker," Kelly said.
Ocean County Freeholder Virginia E. Haines said the Joint Base has the infrastructure and facilities needed by the KC-46A tanker.
"The Joint Base is well suited for this mission," she said.