Wicker Lauds Bridge Mission Announcement for Key Field

Senator Actively Worked to Secure Mission; Says It’s Important for Both Meridian and Our Nation’s Defense

September 16, 2008

WASHINGTON – Today’s announcement that the Air Force and Mississippi Air National Guard have agreed on a bridge mission at Key Field is great news for our nation and for Meridian, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker said.  Wicker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had been actively working to help secure a bridge mission.

“I am grateful to the Air Force and Air National Guard leadership for recognizing the strong assets and resources located in Meridian,” Sen. Wicker said.  “The RC-12 mission will help fill the gap between the departure of the KC-135 tankers and the arrival of the Joint Cargo Aircrafts.  Mississippi is a proud military community that contributes greatly to the safety and security of our nation, and this new mission will be a part of that effort.” 

Sen. Wicker joined Governor Haley Barbour, Sen. Thad Cochran, and Rep. Chip Pickering in announcing today that the Air Force and Mississippi Air National Guard have agreed to establish a temporary mission qualification training detachment for the RC-12 aircraft.  The RC-12 is the Air Force’s newest manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform, providing near-real-time information to our soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in July, Sen. Wicker brought the matter of a bridge mission for Key Field to the attention of three top Air Force officials who were before the committee, inviting them to visit the field.. 

Wicker said that in addition to helping our military win the war against terrorism, the bridge mission is important for Meridian’s economy because it ensures continuing operations at Key Field.  "This bridge mission will ensure the pilots, flight crews and maintenance personnel at Key Field will be able to stay in Meridian and maintain their high level of proficiency and skill while at the same time playing an important role in the War on Terror,” Wicker said.