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Arizona congressional delegation asks Pentagon to build up Phoenix base

(U.S. Air Force Photo)

PHOENIX – A bipartisan Arizona congressional delegation has written the Pentagon asking for more aerial refueling tankers at a Phoenix-based Air National Guard unit.

A letter signed by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat, and Martha McSally, a Republican, and eight of Arizona’s nine U.S. House members said the 161st Air Refueling Wing should get additional KC-135s because the demand for aerial refueling in the region was growing.

The letter cited refueling needs of planes either located at bases in the state – Luke Air Force Base near Glendale; Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson; and the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma; – or assigned to out-of-state units that use the Barry M. Goldwater Air National Guard Base at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Republican Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko and David Schweikert signed the letter, as did Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego, Ann Kirkpatrick, Tom O’Halleran and Greg Stanton.

The letter, sent in late July, also said expanding the 161st’s roster of eight KC-135s would help justify expanding its home base at the Goldwater Range complex near the California border.

“As representatives from Arizona, we are proud that our state is home to premier installations for combat air power,” the letter read.

“The security of our nation depends on the combat readiness of our Air Force. …

“We respectfully request you provide our respective offices with a briefing outlining how the Air Force plans to address unmet and future air refueling demand …”

Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva did not sign the letter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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