Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Air Force Announces KC-46A Preferred and Reasonable Alternatives

Air Force officials announced today the preferred and reasonable alternatives for the first KC-46A Tanker aircraft training and main operating bases.  The Air Force must now conduct the necessary environmental analysis before making a final basing decision in Spring 2014

Altus Air Force Base, Okla., is the preferred alternative for the KC-46A formal training unit.

McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., is the preferred alternative for the first active duty-led KC-46A main operating base.

Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., and Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., are the reasonable alternatives.

The preferred alternative for the first Air National Guard KC-46A main operating base is Pease Air Guard Station, N.H.  The reasonable alternatives are Forbes Air Guard Station, Kan.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Pittsburgh International Airport Air Guard Station, Pa., and Rickenbacker Air Guard Station, Ohio.

Congressman Adam Smith said, “I respect and appreciate how the Air Force has conducted this process, but  it is disappointing that Fairchild Air Force Base was not chosen as the Air Force’s preferred host for KC-46A,” Smith said. “I still believe that Fairchild’s capacity and accommodations for the tanker, strategic location, tremendous community support, and proven track record of serving our nation’s aerial refueling effort with the KC-135 make the base an ideal home for the next generation of tankers.  The Washington Congressional delegation has and will continue to work together to promote Fairchild’s capacity to host future tankers.”

"The Air Force chose these locations using operational analysis, results of site surveys and military judgment factors," said Timothy Bridges, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations.

"Bringing the KC-46A online is an important step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been a leader in air refueling for more than five decades," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III 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."

Welsh explained the 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are just the first phase of a three-phase effort to replace more than 400 KC-135 and 59 KC-10 aircraft.  The first phase of tanker recapitalization will complete deliveries in fiscal 2028.  He went on to emphasize the importance of continuing KC-135 modernization efforts.

"I want to stress that the KC-135 units not replaced with the KC-46A will continue to fly the KC-135R for the foreseeable future," Welsh said. "Throughout tanker recapitalization, the Air Force is committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander requirements."

"The Air Force began the Environmental Impact Analysis Process in April 2013," Bridges said. "We look forward to the inputs provided from the communities as we proceed through the environmental impact analysis."

"Once the requirements of the environmental impact analysis process are complete, the Air Force will make its final basing decision," he said.

The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability, and multi-point air refueling capability.

The formal training unit and the first main operating base will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal 2016. The second main operating base will receive aircraft in fiscal 2018.

For more information, please contact Ann Stefanek, Air Force Public Affairs, at 703-695-0640 or email.

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