The US Air Force (USAF) has chosen Fairchild Air Force Base (AFB) in Washington, US, as the preferred location to base a squadron of KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.

Besides this, the air force officials have confirmed that MacDill AFB, Florida, US, has been selected as an alternative for basing the military aerial refuelling aircraft.

The USAF Secretary Heather Wilson said: “Fairchild AFB is the best choice for additional air force tankers.

“It’s well placed to gas up aircraft going across the Pacific, and it has the facilities we need without a lot of construction, making it the lower-cost option for the taxpayer.”

The 12 air refuelling tanker planes are expected to be transferred from the McConnell AFB, Kansas, US, to the Fairchild AFB in fiscal 2020. McConnell AFB will then receive the KC-46A Pegasus aircraft.

Air Mobility Command (AMC) commander general Carlton D. Everhart II said: “Fairchild AFB has been an integral part of our nation's defence since World War II and serves as a critical air refuelling centre of excellence for our nation.

“The addition of 12 KC-135 Stratotankers at this strategically located base enhances our ability to meet constantly evolving global needs of combatant commanders who rely on air refuelling every day.”

While carrying out the detailed, on-the-ground site survey of each potential base, AMC analysed operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, manpower, and cost.

Currently, the USAF is addressing the present air refuelling constraints by increasing the tanker plane fleet to 479 aircraft.

Image: A KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft taxis to a parking spot at Travis AFB, California, US. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force photo / technical sergeant James Hodgman.