02.24.16

Peters Introduces Legislation to Support Michigan Air National Guard Operations in Battle Creek

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he is introducing legislation with Republican Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), to help the Michigan Air National Guard’s 110th Attack Wing maintain its operations in Battle Creek.

“The mission of 110th Attack Wing in Battle Creek is key to defending America and our allies against evolving and emerging threats to our security,” said Senator Peters. “The Michigan Air National Guard’s presence continues a proud tradition of military service in Battle Creek that also helps drive economic growth in the region. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation to support our nation’s defense capabilities and the 110th Attack Wing’s mission in Battle Creek.”

The Michigan Air National Guard pays a reduced rent for use of space at W.K. Kellogg Airport to maintain the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base where the 110th Attack Wing operates MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircrafts (RPAs). Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires airports applying for federal grants to charge fair market value to tenants, but provides an exemption for military units with an “aeronautical mission,” which may be charged a nominal lease. However, the FAA does not consider RPA operations an “aeronautical mission” for purposes of grants because the aircraft conduct operations across the world and are not stationed on base. Therefore, Kellogg Airport may lose their FAA grant eligibility if the Michigan Air National Guard’s rent is not increased to fair market value, potentially forcing the Guard to move operations elsewhere. Peters’ legislation would make airports that provide nominal leases to military units operating RPAs eligible for grants.

“Battle Creek Unlimited appreciates the Senator’s leadership on this issue which will benefit the mission of the Air National Guard and the W.K. Kellogg Airport.  We see this as a win-win for military communities,” said Marie Briganti, President and CEO, Battle Creek Unlimited.

“We greatly appreciate the efforts and leadership of Senators Peters, Ernst and Cotton to resolve this critical issue for the Air National Guard. With the continued absence of serious negotiations between the Air Force and the FAA, NGAUS applauds this legislation, which would protect the current and future status of remotely piloted aircraft in the National Guard,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, President, National Guard Association of the United States.

Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, has been a strong supporter of the 110th Attack Wing in Battle Creek. Last year, Senator Peters toured Battle Creek Air National Guard Base and the Fort Custer Training Center, which is a potential site for a missile interceptor system. Last May, Senator Peters wrote a letter to the Director of the Department of Defense’s Missile Defense Agency (MDA) urging MDA to select Fort Custer as the next location to host a new ground-based missile defense system. In December, it was announced that the 110th Attack Wing would host a cybersecurity operations squadron that will strengthen American military cyber defense capabilities.