Tinker AFB selected as candidate for Reserve KC-46A main operating base
By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
/ Published April 14, 2015
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials announced that Tinker Air Force Base is among four Air Force installations chosen as a possible location to operate the first Air Force Reserve-led KC-46A main operating base.
Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina; Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; and Grissom ARB, Indiana are all candidate bases for the new KC-46A Pegasus location.
The KC-46As will begin arriving at the first Air Force Reserve-led Global Mobility Wing in fiscal year 2019. Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command officials will conduct site surveys at each base starting next month with a visit to Tinker scheduled late in May.
"The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top three acquisition priorities," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "It is absolutely essential that we replace our aging tanker fleet so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation's global reach for years to come."
The Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command will soon conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base. They will assess each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower. Additionally, they will develop cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base. Once the site surveys are completed, the results will be briefed to the SecAF and chief of staff of the Air Force to select preferred and reasonable alternatives for the operating location. The Air Force plans to announce the Reserve-led KC-46A preferred and reasonable alternatives and begin the Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP) in the summer of 2015.
"This basing action is another great example of the Total Force relationship the Air Force Reserve Command has enjoyed for many years with Air Mobility Command," said Lieutenant General James F. Jackson, the commander of Air Force Reserve Command.
"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," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "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.
"I want to stress that the tanker units being considered that do not receive the KC-46A will continue to fly their current aircraft 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 also stressed the importance of its strategic basing process in creating deliberate, repeatable and standardized decisions.
"In this process, the Air Force uses criteria-based analysis and military judgment," said Mark A. Pohlmeier, the acting deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations. "We look forward to the next phase of the process when preferred and reasonable alternatives are announced and our candidate base communities have an opportunity to participate by providing input for the environmental impact analysis."
The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, worldwide 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.
"Our Okies in the 507th are some of the best Airmen on the planet and I know that if we were selected for the new aircraft they would continue to do an outstanding job bringing fuel to the fight," said Col. Brian Davis, 507th Air Refueling Wing commander. "We look forward to the command level site survey next month."
The commander went on to say that the basing criteria comes from the Secretary of the Air Force and Air Force Chief of Staff in Washington and is a deliberate enterprise-wide look.
The selection criteria will include proximity to air refueling receiver demand, airfield, airspace availability, fuels considerations, and the potential to establish an associated unit. The logistical capacity at each base will be evaluated to include, hangar, runway, ramp space and facilities considerations. Additionally, environmental requirements and cost factors will also be major contributors for the Air Force decision.