- Associated Press - Thursday, January 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) - New Jersey’s second-largest employer is getting an extended lease on life now that the Air Force picked it to host its next generation of air refueling tankers, officials said Thursday.

Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will receive 24 KC-46 Pegasus tankers to replace its current fleet of 32 KC-10 Extenders. The planes also will be stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California.

Lawmakers said securing the air refueling mission ensures the sustainability of the base from any future closure.

“Today’s decision is a big win for JB-MDL and a monumental step that will help maintain and secure the base, and its economic impact for New Jersey, for decades to come,” said Republican Rep. Chris Smith.

The base also hosts eight KC-135 Stratotankers and 13 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, and other planes and helicopters.

Smith said the joint base contributes $6.9 billion annually to the regional economy and it is the nation’s only tri-service joint installation. It is home to over 80 mission partners that includes active duty, reserve and guard units.

“This is a monumental decision for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the people of New Jersey, including the tens of thousands of military families who dedicate their lives by serving at the base,” Republican Gov. Chris Christie said.

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