Air Force officials announced fives bases as candidates for the next round of active duty-led KC-46A Pegasus basing on June 23. 2016.
The bases include Dover Air Force Base, Del.; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; Travis AFB, Calif.; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
The KC-46As are expected to begin arriving at the second active duty-led global mobility wing in fiscal year 2020.
“The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top acquisition priorities,” said Air Force Secretary 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 will soon conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base in approved assessment areas. They will assess each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower.
Additionally, AMC 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 Air Force leadership who will select preferred and reasonable alternatives for the operating location. The Air Force plans to announce the second active duty-led KC-46A preferred alternative by the end of 2016.
“Bringing the KC-46A online is a critical first step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been at the heart of global response for more than five decades,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “This great new aircraft will achieve better mission-capable rates, suffer less maintenance downtime, and improve the U.S. military’s ability to respond rapidly to humanitarian crises and contingency operations around the world.”
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 Jennifer Miller, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations. “We look forward to the next phase of the process when the preferred alternative is announced and our candidate base communities have an opportunity to participate by providing input for the environmental 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 multipoint air refueling capability.