USAF announces candidate bases to host Reserve-led KC-46A tankers


KC-46A

The US Air Force (USAF) has announced the name of candidate bases to host the first Reserve-led KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker aircraft.

Located in Oklahoma and North Carolina respectively, Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) and Seymour-Johnson AFB, along with Westover Air Reserve Base (ARB), Massachusetts, and Grissom ARB, Indiana, were selected for the KC-46As, which will begin arriving at the first Air Force Reserve-led Global Mobility Wing in 2019.

US Air Force Secretary (SecAF) Deborah Lee James said: "The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top three acquisition priorities.

"It is absolutely essential that we replace our ageing tanker fleet so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation's global reach for years to come."

Meanwhile, the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command will now conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys at each base, assessing each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower.

In addition, the survey team will develop cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base.

"It is absolutely essential that we replace our ageing tanker fleet so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation's global reach for years to come."

After completion of site surveys, the results would be briefed to the SecAF and Air Force chief of staff general Mark Welsh, to help in the selection of preferred and reasonable alternatives for the operating location.

Selection of Reserve-led KC-46A preferred and reasonable alternatives and the environmental impact analysis process would begin in the summer of 2015, followed by announcement of final base in 2016.

Developed from Boeing's 767-200ER airliner, the KC-46A is a military aerial refuelling and strategic transport aircraft designed to replace USAF's ageing KC-135 Stratotankers fleet.

Boeing is currently under contract to deliver 18 KC-46s by 2017 to the USAF, which is planning to procure a total of 179 tankers by 2028.

Commenting on KC-46A Pegasus, Welsh said: "This new-age aircraft will achieve better mission-capable rates with less maintenance downtime, improving our ability to respond with rapid, global capability to assist U.S., joint, allied and coalition forces and better support humanitarian missions."


Image: A KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker aircraft of the US Air Force. Photo: courtesy of dma.mil.