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Future of NAS Whidbey bright, prosperous
Congressman Rick Larsen visited Oak Harbor Saturday to underscore the bases solid position as the military realigns its facilities.
Larsens visit came the day after Whidbey Island Air Station supporters learned to their relief that the base was not included on the Pentagons list of proposed base closures.
While hes thankful NAS Whidbey wont be at the center of deliberations during Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) discussions to come, Larsen emphasized work for Whidbey isnt over.
Were at the beginning of a sprint, he said.
Larsen, and other members of the Washington delegation on Capitol Hilll, will continue promoting Whidbeys assets, strengthening the base and priming it for expansion during the realignment process.
Until late this year when the BRAC process is complete, with everything signed and sealed, no timeline for transferring people and material will be established.
But in the next years, more people, equipment and tasks will relocate to NAS Whidbey.
Whidbeys Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department will disappear. In its place a Fleet Service Center will handle high-level maintenance of aircraft. And it wont necessarily be limited to work on EA-6B Prowlers and P-3 Orions, the planes currently stationed at Whidbey. It could could become a center for aviation repair and training for the F/A 18G, the Prowlers replacement, and the MMA, the P-3 replacement.
But Larsen stressed that a decision on stationing these aircraft here is not expected soon, as everythings still in the study and discussion stages.
But the congressmans final statement Saturday was strong, as he spoke to a group of Oak Harbor leaders, including Mayor Patty Cohen.
I see BRAC as a confirmation that the Pentagon recognizes NAS Whidbey plays a crucial part of homeland defense, Larsen said.