Air Force announces criteria for KC-46A Reserve basing

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After extensive internal review, the Air Force on Nov. 9, released the basing criteria that will be used to select candidate bases for the first Reserve-led KC-46A main operating base.

The KC-46As will begin arriving at the first Air Force Reserve-led global mobility wing in fiscal year 2019.

The basing criteria under consideration include mission (proximity to refueling receiver demand, airfield and airspace availability, fuels considerations and the potential to establish an active-duty association); capacity (hangar, runway, ramp space and facility considerations); environmental requirements and cost factors.

“The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top three acquisition priorities,” said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. “We will begin to replace our aging tanker fleet in 2016, but even when the program is complete in 2028 we will have replaced less than half of the current tanker fleet.”

The Air Force will evaluate all Reserve-led global mobility wings with a runway of at least 7,000 feet against the approved criteria. This information will be used to identify candidate bases for the KC-46A.

“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, the commander of Air Force Reserve Command.

After the release of the candidate bases, Air Force Reserve Command and Air Mobility Command will conduct site surveys at each candidate base. Site survey teams will assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower, then develop cost estimates to determine how to bed down the KC-46A.

Based on the results of these efforts, the Air Force plans to identify candidate installations in the spring of 2015, select the preferred and reasonable alternatives and begin the environmental impact analysis process in the fall of 2015 and announce a final decision in calendar year 2016.

“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,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Mark A. Welsh III. “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.”

(Information courtesy of Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs)