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Looking for the right home.

The Air Force is looking at four bases to be the location of the first Air Force Reserve-led KC-46A global mobility wing.

Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma; Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; and Grissom ARB, Indiana, are in contention as potential locations. Once a location is selected, the KC-46A Pegasus will begin arriving in fiscal year 2019.

"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."

Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command will conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base. They will assess each location's ability to meet operational requirements as well as any potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower. Additionally, they will develop estimates of what it will cost to bed down the KC-46A at each candidate base.

Once the site surveys are completed, the results will be briefed to the SECAF and Air Force chief of staff 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 this summer.

"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 Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, AFRC commander.

"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," Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh 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.

"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, 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."

(Secretary of the Air Force public affairs)

The aircrew compartment contains 15 permanent seats, including accomodations for the aerial refueling operator and an aerial refueling instructor. Panoramic displays give the ARO wing-tip to wing-tip situational awareness.

A cargo deck above the refueling system can accommodate a mix load of passengers, patients and cargo. The KC-46A can carry up to 18 463L cargo pallets. Seat tracks and the onboard cargo-handling system make it possible to simultaneously carry palletized cargo, seats and patient support pallets in a variety of combinations. The new tanker aircraft offers significantly increased cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities.


The KC-46A is intended to replace the Air Force's aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers, the Air Force's primary refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency, and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps as well as allied nation coalition force aircraft.

The KC-46A will be able to refuel any fixed-wing, receiver-capable aircraft on any mission. This aircraft is equipped with a modernized KC-10 refueling boom integrated with a proven fly-by-wire control system. It delivers a fuel offload rate required for large aircraft. In addition, the hose and drogue system adds additional mission capability that is independently operable from the refueling boom system.

Two high-bypass turbofan engines, mounted under 34-degree swept wings, power the KC-46A to takeoff at gross weights up to 415,000 pounds. Nearly all internal fuel can be pumped through the boom, drogue and wing aerial refueling pods. The centerline drogue and wing aerial refueling pods are used to refuel aircraft fitted with probes. All aircraft will be configured for the installation of a multipoint refueling system.
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Publication:Citizen Airman
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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