Smith helps break ground for first phase of massive $146.5M construction projectNew Mission-Critical Joint Base Hangar a Local Victory
Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), who has fought long and hard to protect and expand critical missions at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, appeared with military leaders, federal, state, and local officials, and others on Monday at the groundbreaking of a major construction project that will begin a significant new chapter in the history of the Joint Base.
“Today we celebrate and break ground on the first construction project for the newest mission at the Joint Base that is critical to our national security: the KC-46A refueling tankers,” Smith stated. “I have watched the Joint Base and its mission evolve over the years and have never been more proud of the people who work here.”
“Thank you, Major General Gordy, Colonel Richardson, Colonel Breeden, Colonel Pemberton, Captain Khan and Colonel Durr for having me and for the work you all do for this base and for the nation,” Smith stated.
Monday’s groundbreaking kicks off the construction of a new hangar and other projects to prepare the base for the arrival of 24 new KC-46A Pegasus refueling tankers in 2021.
As Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, Smith worked with Congressional colleagues and NJ officials to prime the base and successfully compete to receive the new fleet of KC-46A tankers. He petitioned the Air Force to designate JB-MDL as a home for the tankers, and hosted meetings with top military personnel to advocate for the base’s selection given its status as the nation’s only tri-service joint installation, with over 80 mission partners, and its strategic location.
In January of 2017, JB-MDL was selected by the Air Force as one of two locations to receive the fleet of new tankers, and in July of 2017 the Air Force decided that the Joint Base would receive its portion of the tankers first. In the FY 2018 appropriations, the Joint Base received $146.5 million in construction projects related to the arrival of the KC-46As, and $10.2 million in FY 2019 appropriations for the replacement of the hot cargo hydrant system at the base.
“Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst base has successfully supported KC-10 and KC-135 tankers for many years, as well as C-17 airlifters, and today we officially prepare for the 24 new, state-of-the-art, environmentally cleaner and quieter American made Boeing KC-46As—which will burn 40 percent less fuel than a KC-10 and produce less emissions than similarly-sized jetliners,” Smith stated. “This installation is the ideal location for the new tankers, as it is the nation’s only Army-Air Force- Navy joint installation, and is home to over 80 mission partners that include active duty, Reserve and Guard units.”
Rep. Smith also fought numerous times over the years to ensure that Navy Lakehurst base would not be closed—including forming the “Save Navy Lakehurst Committee” in 1995—and helped to secure the establishment of the joint base command with McGuire and Fort Dix to fortify support for each facility. The arrival of the new KC-46A tankers, along with the new construction projects at the base, will improve the base’s critical value even more and protect it against any future efforts to realign or close military bases.