McConnell AFB a finalist for next generation tankers
By Chris Durden
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:17 PM CST, January 9, 2013
The Pentagon has announced that McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita is among the finalists to house the next generation refueling tankers for the United States Air Force.
McConnell is a finalist for the Main Operating Base (MOB#1) and the Formal Training Unit (FTU). Forbes Airfield in Topeka is a finalist for the Main Operating Base (MOB#2). The two bases are not competeting against each other.
“Today’s selection of not just one, but both Kansas Air Force bases is a testament to the critical role our state plays in supporting all branches of our military and allied partners as they carry out missions overseas and at home,” Sen. Jerry Moran said in a statement.
McConnell is the world's largest tanker base with 63 KC-135's. Its successor, the Boeing KC-46A, will replace the decades old fleet in the next few years.
Lawmakers at the federal, state and local level praised the Air Force's decision to include the two Kansas installations in its decision.
“With McConnell the top installation in the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, and a front-runner in the Command-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award competition, and with the many opportunities for growth and performance at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas airmen and airwomen time and again demonstrate their steadfast dedication and hard work in contributing to the security of the United States. And, we have a great support network of civilian staff, neighbors and friends that help each installation achieve excellence," said Sen. Pat Roberts.Dozens of bases vied for the next generation tanker. Wednesday's decision narrowed the list. The three tanker bases will be decided later this year.Starting in 2016, the base selected as MOB#1 will receive the first of 36 active-duty KC-46A tankers. The MOB#1 location will be selected based on criteria including mission, capacity, environmental impact and cost. McConnell AFB is competing against other Active Duty, Classic Association bases for the MOB#1 and FTU basing. Forbes is competing against other Air National Guard-led, Active Association bases. Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma is competeting with McConnell in both of categories. Fairchild AFB in Washington State and Grand Forks AFB are in competition for MOB#1."McConnell Air Force Base brings an annual economic impact to our community of more than $550 million. McConnell is a vital community partner that provides jobs, national security and supports our status as the Air Capital of the World," said Mayor Carl Brewer.If McConnell is one of the bases selected for the KC-46A, it would likely protect the facility from subsequent rounds of base closures.
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