01.04.21

SCHUMER: BIPARTISAN END-OF-YEAR OMNIBUS LEGISLATION URGES AIR FORCE SECRETARY TO PRIORITIZE TAXIWAY EXPANSION OF NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION; INSUFFICIENT INFRASTRUCTURE HAS HURT AIR FORCE RESERVE MISSION READINESS; REPAIRS WOULD BOOST WNY ECONOMY & NATIONAL DEFENSE

Recent Aircraft Conversions Have Limited Takeoff Capacity And Reduced Readiness Of Units To Respond To Global Requirements

Senator Says Taxiway Extension Necessary To Support Air Force Reserve’s Air Refueling Mission & Boost Local Economy

Schumer: Air Force Must Clear Niagara Falls Air Reserve For Takeoff

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the inclusion of a provision in the 2020 end-of-year omnibus legislation that urges the secretary of the Air Force to prioritize ready-to-execute Air Force Reserve (AFR) repair projects, pointing to the extension of a taxiway at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) as a primary example. Schumer explained that the expansion at NFARS is critical to the AFR’s air refueling capability, as recent aircraft conversions and insufficient taxiway length have limited takeoff capacity and increased weather restriction, thereby reducing the readiness of units to respond to global requirements.

“The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is a critical asset to the Air Force Reserve and to the Western New York economic region,” said Senator Schumer. “The service members stationed there need the right infrastructure to conduct their world-class missions.”

Schumer added, “I am proud to have delivered a provision in next year’s military construction federal budget that urges the Secretary of the Air Force to prioritize ready-to-execute Reserve repair projects like the much needed extension to the taxiway at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, to support the Air Force Reserve’s air refueling mission.

Schumer also noted that increased activity at NFARS would boost the entire Western New York economy, recently devastated the COVID pandemic.

Schumer added, “Making sure the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is clear for takeoff is essential for the Air Force Reserve’s rapid global mobility mission and the smooth functioning of the state’s economy – especially for our upstate cities and small communities.”

Schumer has long fought for greater federal investment into NFARS. Last year, the senator fought to prevent President Trump from redirecting funding meant for NFARS, to the Southern border wall. The senator also explained that last year he helped bring the KC-135 tanker fleet back to NFARS after the departure of the C-130 mission. Schumer said that previously, NFARS had been flying aging C-130 tactical airlifters. The USAF eventually upgraded NFARS’s mission to the KC-135 aircraft after Schumer’s push. Schumer has visited NFARS in the past, including in 2017, and he worked with Air Force and National Guard officials to secure funding for a new training facility, building on the structures already in place at NFARS. Also in 2017, Schumer announced that the base would receive eight KC-135 aircraft, which brought nearly $25 million in investment, jobs and increased flight hours.

Additionally, in April of 2018, he visited NFARS and called for greater investment in the base. Specifically, Schumer announced a major push to secure nearly $50 million worth of long-overdue upgrades for NFARS. During the visit, Schumer highlighted specific projects that are desperately needed, including upgrades to the main security gate, expansion of the existing runway to better accommodate the base’s new KC-135 mission, and create new state-of-the-art facilities for civil engineering and the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. On September 27, 2018, Schumer met with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in-person to advocate for the infrastructure improvements at NFARS. The infrastructure upgrades called for by Schumer would help to increase NFARS’s aircraft capacity so that the facility would have the flexibility to accept up to 16 KC-135’s, or even KC-46s one day.

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