SCHUMER: NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION HAS WAITED LONG ENOUGH FOR KC-135 SIMULATOR; SENATOR URGES DOD TO PRIORITIZE NFARS FOR SIMULATOR — SAYS NEW EQUIPMENT WILL HELP TRAIN PILOTS & PROTECT OVER 2,600 JOBS IN WNY
A New Empty Facility Stands Ready To House Air Force Simulator; Senator Says NFARS Location Makes Smart Financial Sense
Simulator Will Be Used To Train Pilots From Across The Country To Fly KC-135 Aircraft; This State-Of-The-Art Training Equipment Is Needed To Keep NFARS Mission Ready
Schumer To DOD: Land KC-135 Simulator at NFARS, Help Protect Jobs & Enhance National Security
Standing at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer doubled down on his effort to secure critical training equipment, specifically the KC-135 simulator, which will be used to train new pilots, protect base viability, and sustain the nearly 2,600 jobs that are sustained by NFARS. Schumer said NFARS’s newly built facility stands ready to house the KC-135 simulator. He urged Pentagon and Air Force officials to approve the simulator transfer as soon as possible.
“I worked hard to bring the KC-135 fleet back to NFARS, and now I’m fighting to provide our Air Force personnel with the tools they need to successfully execute their mission,” said Senator Schumer. “The new simulator will allow NFARS to successfully carry out a mission that is paramount to our national security and beneficial across our regional economy. It will draw pilots from across the country, jumpstarting new investment opportunities in the region, and sustaining more than 2,600 jobs. What’s more, NFARS’s brand new facility is sitting empty despite the Air Force’s decision to construct an entirely new building in Pittsburgh.. Providing our pilots with the most up-to-date training technology is of critical importance to our national security and NFARS has waited long enough."
Schumer explained 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 last 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 visit today, 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.
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 high-tech improvements will signal to the Air Force and aviation community that NFARS is committed to training the best KC-135 pilots in the country, and is vital to our national security.
Schumer and Gillibrand have long fought to bring the KC-135 fleet and simulator back 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 the Lieutenant General Jackson to visit NFARS in person.
In January of this year, Schumer and Gillibrand called the Secretary of the Airforce Deborah Lee James and urged Secretary James and the USAF to consider NFARS as a as a home for the KC-135. Both Schumer and Gillibrand presented a clear case to why NFARS was the most logical base for the KC-135. Schumer and Gillibrand cited the Defense Logistics Agency’s report that such a transition was possible, and that construction to alter NFARS’s existing tanker infrastructure would cause the USAF to incur far less costs than the building of another station.
During his confirmation hearing, General Goldfein indicated a commitment to providing the 914th the equipment needed for the KC-135 mission, including the flight simulator.