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Air Force Delays Short List Release of Bases to Get New KC-46

FAIRFIELD — The Air Force has delayed until mid-January its release of a short list of which bases will be finalists to get the new KC-46A aerial refueling aircraft.

Political leaders who represent a host of large air bases from New England to California have spent the past several months lobbying to make sure their base gets on that list.

Locally, groups such as the Travis Community Consortium and politicians such as Rep. John Garamendi have sung the praises of Travis Air Force Base as being the best West Coast base with the capacity to take in the aircraft and meet its support facility needs.

A press release from Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, stated that he was told to expect the list Dec. 12, but was told that day that the list would be released some time in the next couple of weeks.

Paul Hirsch of Madison Government Affairs, which advises the Travis Community Consortium, said that nothing has changed, with Boeing planning to deliver the first KC-46 aircraft in 2017 and that the bases receiving them are expected to be ready in 2016.

In May, the Air Force released a list of 53 active-duty bases it is examining to become either a main operating base or a formal training base for the KC-46A air refueling tanker, which is slated to replace the service’s aging KC-135 air refueling tanker.

Travis Air Force Base was one of four active-duty bases in California on the list. Another list of potential sites to become a second main operating base for a KC-46 Air National Guard unit included four California Air National Guard bases.

The Air Force plans to establish three bases – a training base, an active-duty base and an Air National Guard base – to station the first of a projected fleet of 179 KC-46As aerial tankers. Longer-range plans call for stationing the tankers at 10 main bases, according to the Air Force.

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