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Air Force picks KC-46A candidate bases

by Mike Hoffman on January 10, 2013

The Air Force announced Wednesday the nine candidate bases slotted to potentially host the KC-46A next generation tanker. The first aircraft are set to arrive in 2016 at active duty units and 2018 at Guard units

From those nine, the Air Force will pick a training unit and two main operating bases — one active duty, the other Guard. Air Force officials said they plan to eventually station the entire planned tanker fleet at 10 main operating bases.

The finalists are as follows:

Active duty main operating base: Altus Air Force Base, Okla.; McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas; Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.; Air Force Base, Wash.

Air National Guard main operating base: Forbes Air Guard Station, Kansas; Joint-Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Pease Air Guard Station, N.H.; Pittsburgh International Airport Air Guard Station, Pa.; Rickenbacker Air Guard Station, Ohio.

The Air Force will choose between Altus and McConnell to decide where it will station its formal training unit for the KC-46A. It will be at one of those two bases where pilots will first learn to fly the next generation tanker.

The Air Force currently houses its tanker fleet consisting of the KC-10 and KC-135 at Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.; Altus; Fairchild; Andrews Air Force Base, Md.;  Kadena Air Base, Japan; MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.; March Air Reserve Base, Calif.; McConnell; RAF Mildenhall, England; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.. The KC-135 is also stationed at Air National Guard bases in Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance January 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Hope they can station some on the west coast like McCord AFB.


Doug January 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm
tmb2 January 10, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Actually the list in the article says "air force base, wa." Maybe Hoffman left off the name on accident?

Also, just to nitpick the text a little more, they're no longer McChord Air Force Base and McGuire Air Force Base. They're now called Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.


Doug January 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm
tmb2 January 12, 2013 at 9:31 pm

No worries Doug, we still call it Fort Lewis out of habit sometimes. My remark was made more towards the author than you.

TinkersDam January 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm

You called it. Fairchild is on the list, as it should be. I would expect the initial deployment to reflect the "Pacific Pivot" we've been hearing about, and Fairchild seems like a good candidate.


Paul January 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm
stephen russell January 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm

Why no tankers on Ford Island air base?
Pearl Harbor Naval Complex, HI for TransPac missions.


Tiger January 10, 2013 at 11:44 pm
WILd January 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

He was right, like another stated it's now called Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. I know some just shorten to what ever is common for them


Lance January 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm

I like to see West Coast bases not just Hawaii.


Adam January 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Probably cause there's no runway on Ford Island. I know I live there. Try Hickam AFB across the harbor.


deerbandit January 11, 2013 at 1:47 pm
SJE January 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

I understand having WA, and ND, but why OK AND KS. and nothing at the furthest extremities: FL/TX, ME?


deerbandit January 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm
deerbandit January 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm
Tony R. January 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

McConnell already has tankers there, and Altus is currently a training base for the heavies so the runways will already have the length and thickness to handle the weight of these aircraft. Same for McConnell


deerbandit January 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm
Hammer6 January 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm

How will the USAF make final selections?. A few years back, when planning for the (defunct) AFCYBER, the USAF was actively looking for concessions/incentives from states. I hope this practice will not be repeated.


Vaporhead January 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

The politican with the biggest clout will get the base at his/her home state.


Tanker Chief January 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

This article also fails to mention the National Guard operates the KC-135R out of Milwaukee, WI.


Tanker Chief January 13, 2013 at 12:26 pm

BTW, all the active-duty bases listed as primary bases are former SAC airfields with +13K foot runways and high gross weight reinforced runway/parking surfaces.



Tanker Chief January 13, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Sorry, they've since added Wisconsin for ANG, but still fail to mention the ANG KC-135s in Alaska and Hawaii.


deerbandit January 13, 2013 at 3:51 pm
Sean Dione January 14, 2013 at 9:57 am

Thay also failed to mention Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana, which operates 16 of the Air Force Reserves KC-135Rs, and have done so since the base converted from Active Duty to active Reserve Base in 1994.


Tony R. January 14, 2013 at 10:15 am

Actually, the tankers have been there longer then that. I was there from 90-92 when it was the largest tanker base. I also remember having to use a five foot rotary hammer bit to drill through concrete to test for fuel in the soil. I think we drilled 2500 holes if I recall right. They used to fly the A model (steam engine I believe they called them?) and the R model. They also had the A-10s there and the occassionally the NECAP bird. I still remember all the alert lights along the NECAP route and the along the Alert route. The Alert facility chow hall used to make the best omelettes :)


Bryan B January 14, 2013 at 11:09 am

The NJANG unit that flies the KC-135R is also stationed on McGuire AFB. I believe they are the top candidate for the ANG(MOB-2) main base. They have a direct pipeline of JP-8, and all the facilities and resources they are looking for. McConnel and the 108th ARW NJANG will be the picks.


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