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Tanker mission list to be narrowed next week; Hoeven makes case for GFAFB

The U.S. Air Force will announce Wednesday its list of air base finalists to receive new tanker missions, according to a news release Thursday from Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Hoeven said he met this week with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh to again make the case for Grand Forks Air Force Base being selected as a site for the new KC-46A aerial-refueling tanker.

Welsh said he anticipates three bases -- one National Guard affiliated, one training base and one active duty base -- will be selected from the candidate finalist list by spring 2013.

"Grand Forks Air Force Base has long played a significant role upholding our nation's defenses," Hoeven said in the release. "During my meeting with Gen. Welsh, I advocated strongly on behalf of Grand Forks' ability to serve as a home for the new tanker. The base has outstanding infrastructure capabilities and is already working jointly with the Air Guard on the Predator mission. Both these factors make Grand Forks well suited to effectively execute the new tanker mission."

Hoeven also invited Welsh to visit to Grand Forks to review the base's capabilities and the Global Hawk unmanned aerial mission.

Hoeven also said he stressed to Welsh the important role Minot Air Force Base serves as the only location in the United States to host two legs -- missiles and bomber missions -- of the nuclear defense triad.

Hoeven is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.