U.S. Reps. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, Friday announced plans Friday to work together to make Scott Air Force Base the home of the Air Force's next-generation air refueling tankers.
Earlier this week, the Air Force set off warning sirens for the Illinois congressional delegation when it announced a list of air bases being considered as the training and operational centers for the KC-46A air tanker, which is set to be rolled out in 2016.
Scott's name was absent from the list of potential bases, raising concerns that Scott -- the metro-east's biggest employer -- would face job losses down the road.
Enyart and Davis are freshmen U.S. House members who were sworn in Jan. 3.
"I will advocate for Scott and ensure its continued success," Enyart said. "It is disappointing that Scott Air Force Base was not picked for the first wave of new tankers, but Scott plays a critical role supporting missions that cannot be overlooked. I look forward to working with the Illinois and Missouri delegations and the Air Force to land the next wave of tankers and strengthening Scott."
Enyart, a member of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, said that fighting for jobs at Scott is a top priority.
Scott serves as headquarters of the Air Mobility Command and the home of the 126th Air National Guard Refueling Wing, which oversees 14 KC-135 Stratotankers.
Davis said Scott's central location and "the expertise of the men and women who work there make the Air Force's decision extremely disappointing and quite perplexing. Moving forward, I will work with the Air Force and members of the Illinois and Missouri delegations to ensure that Scott is a candidate for future opportunities."
The Air Force announced on Monday that four regular Air Force bases had been chosen as candidates for the new air tanker's main operating base: McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas; Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.; Altus Air Force Base, Okla.; and Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
In addition, the Air Force is considering whether to base its main training unit for the KC-46A at either Altus or McConnell air bases.
Finally, five air bases had been picked as finalists for the new air tanker's main Air National Guard operating center: Pease Air Guard Station, N.H.; Rickenbacker Air Guard Station, Ohio; Forbes Air Guard Station, Kansas; McGuire-Dix-Lakehurt, N.J.; and Pittsburgh International Airport Air Guard Station, Penn.
Chicago-based Boeing Corp., which operates a sub-assembly facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, adjacent to Scott, in early 2011 won the $40 billion contract to build nearly 200 KC-46A aircraft, which are set to replace the Air Force fleet of KC-135s, most of which are more than 50 years old.