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Hearing on new planes for Fairchild next Tuesday

Air Force preparing study on base for KC-46A

Spokane will have a special type of “show and tell” next Tuesday on the possibility of the Air Force sending its first new air-refueling tankers to Fairchild Air Force Base.

A session the Air Force is calling drop-in open house scoping meeting will allow the military to show the public what it would mean to have the first Main Operating Base for the new KC-46A at Fairchild, and let members of the public tell what they think about it.

It’s one of four such sessions the Air Force is holding around the country at communities near bases in the running to be the first to receive and operate a squadron of planes that will replace the aging KC-135s that have been a mainstay of military for more than 50 years.

The open house for Fairchild will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Lincoln Center 1316 N. Lincoln St. There’s no formal presentation from the Air Force, and no formal public testimony period. Instead, an Air Force announcement says the meeting “will be in the format of an open house information session and the public can drop in at any time.” People can speak with Air Force personnel individually about locating the plane at the base, which the military calls “beddown.”

The Air Force must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the effects of basing the planes at each facility. It is also going through a similar process for selecting a location for a training facility for the new planes, although Fairchild is not a candidate for that.

Other bases being considered for the first squadron of tankers are Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota and McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

The public can also submit comments to the website which has information on the project.

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