TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Air Force officials selected Travis Air Force Base along with Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey, as the preferred locations for the next two active-duty-led KC-46A Pegasus bases, the Air Force announced Thursday in our nation’s capital.
Twenty-four KC-46A aircraft will replace the legacy aircraft currently at each of those bases, according to the Air Force.
“Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst and Travis (Air Force Base) were chosen as the next two active-duty-led KC-46A bases because they meet all operational mission requirements at the best value for the Air Force and the American taxpayer and support our tanker recapitalization strategy,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James as reported by the Air Force News Service. “It is absolutely essential that we continue invest in the next generation of tanker aircraft so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation’s global reach for years to come.”
Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, and Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota, will be considered as reasonable alternatives during the environmental impact analysis process which is required before a final basing decision is made, the Air Force News Service reports.
At this time, the Air Force is planning to stand down its legacy tankers after growing the tanker fleet to meet its 479-tanker requirement. The timeline is dependent on the KC-46A delivery schedule, but it is not anticipated to reach sufficient KC-46A fleet size and begin the elimination of the legacy aircraft at the first location until 2019.
“The KC-46 will afford combatant commanders extended refueling capabilities, improved global reach and enable timely joint-service response to humanitarian crises and contingency operations around the world,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein as reported by the Air Force News Service. “In fact in the fight against (the Islamic State group), the Air Force and joint and coalition partners depend on gas from our tankers. In 2016, the coalition flew over 13,600 tanker sorties, fueling aircraft nearly 80,000 times, delivering about 800-million pounds of fuel.”
Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma; McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas; Pease Air National Guard Station, New Hampshire; and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina; have already been selected as future KC-46 basing locations. The first KC-46As are expected to begin arriving at McConnell and Altus Air Force Bases this fall.
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.
Travis Air Force Base and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst currently host the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender.