No Stone Unturned

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) met last week with Air Force Gen. Duncan McNabb, new head of US Transportation Command, to advocate Grand Forks Air Force Base in his home state as the first operational site for USAF’s new KC-X tanker and to push for its rapid fielding. Conrad and other North Dakota lawmakers last month discussed tankers with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, who left TRANSCOM last year to take USAF’s top uniformed post. Of his meeting with McNabb, Conrad said in a Feb. 11 release that the TRANSCOM boss “fully understands that we need to replace the tanker fleet as soon as possible.” The North Dakota delegation worries about the so-called “bathtub effect” that will befall Grand Forks when it loses its current tanker aircraft in 2010 and assumes a new Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle mission later this decade.