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House calls for improvements at Alabama Air Guard refueling wing

Officials are seeking $33 million from the National Defense Authorization Act to expand an existing parking ramp.

117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham.

The House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee presented a resolution during its Wednesday meeting that urges the Alabama congressional delegation to support funding for expansion of the 117th Air Refueling Wing’s parking ramp in Birmingham in order to continue its global defense mission.

“The Alabama Air National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing houses the KC-135 Stratotanker in Birmingham, and it has provided the major refueling services for the U.S. Air Force for more than 60 years,” State Rep. Ed Oliver, R-Dadeville, who chairs the committee, said.  “The wing’s existing parking ramp at Sumpter Smith Air National Guard Base is considered undersized under current regulations, and unless expansion occurs, Alabama could lose this important military and economic asset when new tankers come online.”

House Resolution 73, sponsored by State Reps. Jerry Starnes, R-Prattville; Kenneth Paschal, R-Pelham; and Chad Robertson, R-Heflin, notes that the 117th Air Refueling Wing has an estimated economic impact of $100 million on the Birmingham community.

Officials are seeking $33 million from the National Defense Authorization Act to expand the existing parking ramp so it can service and accommodate the newer KC-46 refueling tanker that will soon replace the KC-135.

The unit is able to continue operations at this time only because the Defense Department issued a temporary waiver.

The resolution, which was approved by the House, will be sent to both of Alabama’s U.S. senators and all seven of the members of the congressional delegation.  The special assistant to the adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard will be presented with a copy at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

The committee was scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, in room 429 of the Alabama State House.

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