Selfridge to get $32.6M jet fuel system

Detroit News staff and wire reports

Harrison Township — Officials say a new $32.6 million jet fuel storage and delivery system will be built at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

The National Guard’s 127th Wing announced Monday the project will support rapid refueling of KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling aircraft and other aircraft that are based at Selfridge, training at the facility or deploying from the base.

Currently, jet fuel is trucked from the base’s fuel storage area to the KC-135s. Once the new system is operational, the KC-135s will be able to “pull up to the pump” to receive fuel, base officials said.

There are eight KC-135s in the 127th Wing at the base.

The guard says the contract is the largest single construction contract awarded at Selfridge. Garco Construction of Spokane, Washington, has been hired by the Defense Logistics Agency to complete the project.

“This kind of infrastructure investment is exactly what we need to posture Selfridge to be a cutting-edge military facility for continued aircraft operations in the future,” said Brig. Gen. John D. Slocum, commander, 127th Wing.

Construction of the 630,000 gallon storage complex with an eight-station hydrant refueling system is expected to take about two years. The new system will replace a storage area at the base that was built in 1958.

Fuel trucks will continue to be used for smaller aircraft and helicopters.

Monday’s news comes a week after base officials learned the A-10 Thunderbolt attack fighter aircraft, which had been targeted for mothballing, won’t be retired until 2022. U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Air Force will push back retiring the jet during a speech about the department's budget at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

Selfridge is home to 21 A-10s, also known as Warthogs. Operations related to the jet support 180 full-time jobs and nearly 300 part-time jobs, according to base officials.

The Pentagon has proposed retiring the tank-killing attack jet for more than five years with Michigan's congressional delegation and the plane’s supporters fighting the effort.

The Air Force wants to replace the A-10s with the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

In addition to the Air Force wing, the Army, Coast Guard and Customs & Border Protection all have aircraft assigned to Selfridge.

Since 2011, the base had seen nearly $48 million in improvements, including taxiway and runway refurbishing, expansion of the Joint Reserve Intelligence Center — Detroit, a new aircraft munitions complex and a new digital surveillance radar and tower.