Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Air National Guard has its eyes on Hill Air Force Base.
Moving operations from the current base on the east side of Salt Lake City International Airport to Hill would have advantages, said Air National Guard Col. Dar Craig, with the 151st Air Refueling Wing.
“It really gives us more room to expand so that we can take on any kind of aircraft, any type of mission,” Craig said. “We can actually work closer with the fighters and other entities up there.”
Another motivation is the guard's KC-135 refueling tankers are reaching the end of their lifespan and the Salt Lake City airbase isn't set up to handle their next-generation replacement.
Craig said when the KC-135 does go away, it would be hard to replace it with the new tanker, the KC-46, because it needs a bigger ramp, a bigger area than they have.
“That’s just one of the reasons that we could. It would posture us well with the KC-46 if we did move to Hill,” he said. “It’s not the only reason, but that would be a spin-off benefit.”
Guard leaders call the proposal a win-win. The move isn’t a sure thing.
“It's in the early stages, and there's nothing that's set in stone yet,” he said.
The move would also make fiscal sense. “If we can make this work, we think we can save money,” he said.
Now, they have to convince other stakeholders, from Salt Lake City to the Utah Legislature to the Pentagon.
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