The US Air Force (USAF) has announced the names of six candidate locations in the US to host the next Reserve-led KC-46A Pegasus aerial refuelling tanker aircraft.

The bases are Beale Air Force Base (AFB) in California, Grissom Air Reserve Base (ARB) in Indiana, Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Field Washington in Maryland, March ARB in California, Niagara Falls ARB in New York, and Tinker AFB in Oklahoma.

The service has plans to station a total of 12 KC-46As at one of the six candidate locations. The aircraft will replace Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) KC-135 Stratotankers.

Fairchild AFB in Washington and MacDill AFB in Florida were selected as the candidate locations for the KC-46 active-duty component.

A total of 24 KC-46As will replace active-duty KC-135s at one of the two active-duty component candidate locations.

According to the USAF, Air Mobility Command (AMC) and AFRC officials will jointly conduct ‘detailed on-the-ground site surveys’ at each candidate base.

AFRC commander and Air Force Reserve chief lieutenant general Richard Scobee said: “Our air refuelling mission is the lifeblood of our joint force’s ability to respond to crises and contingencies worldwide.

“This announcement showcases the next step in our commitment to global reach by getting the newest tanker into the hands of our finest Reserve Citizen Airmen.”

The KC-46A is based on the KC-767 refuelling aircraft. It is being manufactured by Boeing under a contract with the USAF.

The aircraft brings many improved capabilities such as boom and drogue refuelling on the same sortie, worldwide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, as well as receiver air refuelling.

Other capabilities include improved force protection and multi-point air refuelling capability.

The USAF noted that site surveys at each candidate main operating base will be conducted in the middle of this year.

The sites will be assessed against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, as well as infrastructure and manpower.

The preferred locations are expected to be announced by the end of the year.