Tuesday, February 28, 2006

City Leaders Discuss Future of Travis in Washington

City Leaders Discuss Future of Travis in Washington
By Mike Corpos

FAIRFIELD - The future holds nothing but blue skies for Fairfield and its chief resident, Travis Air Force Base.

Fairfield city leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week for talks with defense officials on projects at Travis and the base's future, as well as to lobby Congress for money for city programs.

Mayor Harry Price said Monday's meetings with Air Force brass and officials at Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co. went well.

The modernization program for Travis' C-5 cargo jets is on track, said Councilman Frank Kardos, adding that the group was briefed on the subject by a trio of Air Force generals.

He said Lockheed Martin officials told the group the upgrades to digital avionics and new engines are going well.

Once the C-5s are upgraded, they will be re-designated from the current C-5 A/B models to C-5 M for modernization, Price said.

"The modernization program should extend the longevity of the C-5 at Travis through 2040," Kardos said.

That's good news for a community that relies heavily on the base for jobs.

Kardos also said the money is on track for the purchase of a full squadron of new Boeing C-17 jets to be housed at Travis.

As a part of that addition, the base is slated for $74 million in construction projects.

"Things are going very well," Kardos said.

The first of the C-17s should arrive this summer, Price added.

Also on tap is a major overhaul of base housing at Travis, said Vice Mayor Jack Batson.

The privatization program will involve 390 units on the base, and requests for proposals will be let this summer, with a contract to be awarded in June 2007, Batson said.

"They want to have housing of the highest standard for our troops when they come back from their deployments," Batson said. "It's about retention, to make them want to stay in the Air Force and at Travis."

Travis, along with Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, is the model base for total force integration, Batson said.

It means that Travis is ahead of the curve in making its National Guard and Air Force Reserve units equal partners in the base.

"It felt good to hear our base praised so highly," Batson said.

Price said the most recent developments "guarantee the future of the mission at Travis Air Force Base."

The generals were also highly complimentary of the community's Travis Consortium, which deals with base-related issues, Price said.

"We're well-positioned at Travis," Price said.

The city delegation is scheduled to meet today with California's congressional representatives to discuss funding for education and public safety programs.

Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6977 or mcorpos@dailyrepublic.net.

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