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In Meeting With Defense Secretary Schumer Pressed The Secretary To Fulfill Previous USAF Commitment To Bring Critical Simulator To NFARS

Bringing The Promised Simulator To NFARS Would Support 2,600 Western New York Jobs, Help Train A New Generation Of Pilots, And Make Use Of The Investments The Air Force Has Already Made In The Base

Schumer To Mattis: NFARS Stands Ready And Needs The DoD’s Support

In a recent meeting, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer urged Defense Secretary James Mattis to provide important training equipment to the U.S. Air Force in Upstate New York. Specifically, Schumer asked that under his leadership, the Department of Defense (DoD) support efforts to bring a KC-135 simulator to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARs). Schumer explained to Mattis that during his confirmation hearing, General Goldfein indicated a commitment to providing the 914th with the equipment needed for the KC-135 mission, including the flight simulator. Schumer said that bringing the promised simulator to NFARS would support 2,600 Western New York jobs, help train a new generation of pilots, and make use of the investments the Air Force has already made in the base. Schumer told Secretary Mattis that NFARS’s newly built facility stands ready to house the KC-135 simulator and urged him to review and approve the simulator transfer as soon as possible.

“I pressed Secretary Mattis on the importance of the KC-135 flight simulator to the readiness of our armed forces, to the vitality of NFARS, and for the entire Western New York economy. I explained that the new KC-135 mission to NFARS will protect 2,600 jobs, and that it is now critical that our reservists are mission-ready, and that means providing them with state-of-the-art training equipment like the KC-135 simulator,” said Schumer. “My message to Secretary Mattis was crystal clear: make sure our pilots have the proper training to carry out their mission — and that means supporting NFARs’ request for a new stimulator. I told Mattis I will continue to fight to bring this simulator to NFARS.”

Schumer explained to Mattis that he, along with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, helped to bring the KC-135 tanker fleet back to NFARS after the departure of the C-130 mission. Schumer explained that previously, NFARS had been flying aging C-130 tactical airlifters. The Air Force upgraded NFARS’s mission to the KC-135 aircraft after the Senators' urging. Schumer has visited NFARS in the past, including in April of this year, and worked with Air Force and National Guard officials to secure funding for the new training facility, building on the structures already in place at NFARS. Early last year, Schumer announced that the base would receive eight KC-135 aircrafts, which brought nearly $25 million in investments, jobs, and increased flight hours. During his meeting with the Secretary, Schumer said that the next step is to secure the flight simulator and to give NFARS all the tools needed to adequately train pilots from across the country.

Schumer said NFARS has a total economic impact of more than $143 million, making it an indispensable part of Niagara County’s economy, as well as the county’s largest employer. Schumer said that carrying out improvements will signal to the Air Force and aviation communities that NFARS is committed to training the best KC-135 pilots in the country, and that it is vital to our national security.

This week’s meeting comes on the heels of repeated calls to the United States Air Force to make good on a promise to bring a flight simulator to NFARS. On calls in April and June, Schumer pushed Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to begin approving the simulator transfer and followed up his call with a visit to the base where Schumer called on the Pentagon to approve the simulator transfer as soon as possible.

In January 2016, Schumer and Gillibrand called the Former Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and urged her to consider NFARS as a home for the KC-135. Schumer and Gillibrand cited the Defense Logistics Agency’s finding that such a transition was both possible and financially feasible, and that upgrades to NFARS’s existing infrastructure would result in enormous savings for the Air Force.

Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought to bring further investment to and jobs to NFARS:

·       ??In July 2015, Schumer met with General McDew, the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) for the Air Force, and successfully urged the General to support updating the base’s aircraft transport fleet as well as bring the KC-135 back to NFARS. As the commander of TRANSCOM, General McDew played a leading role in the final decision over which “mission” – or aircraft unit – would be phased in by TRANSCOM. Schumer said that because many bases around the country have already upgraded most of their aircraft, NFARS should be next on the list for updates to its C-130 fleet and the return of the KC-135 fleet, which is now reality.

·       In October 2015, Schumer and Gillibrand urged Lieutenant General James Jackson, Chief of the U.S. Air Force (USAF) Reserve, to consider the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) as the next home for KC-135 tankers.

·       In November 2015, Schumer personally met with General Everhart, Commander of the Air Mobility Command for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), and urged him to prioritize the NFARS in Western New York as they are considering bases for new mission.

·       In December 2015, Schumer and Gillibrand announced that they secured a commitment from Lieutenant General Jackson to visit NFARS.