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Posts tagged: KC-46A

It’s really official: Fairchild not getting first new tankers

Anyone holding out hope that the first cohort of new air-refueling tankers would be located at Fairchild Air Force Base can give it up. Pegasus won’t be landing on the West Plains any time soon.

The Air Force confirmed Wednesday the first new KC-46As will go into regular service at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas. McConnell was named the Air Force’s preferred choice for the first operational KC-46A tanker unit last May, with Fairchild as its backup.

But McConnell had to get through an environmental impact study with no unexpected barriers. On Wednesday the Pentagon said it completed studies for McConnell and Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, which will be the new training base. Both passed. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Fairchild on short list for new tankers

Fairchild Air Force Base is one of several bases on a short list for receiving the nation's newest air refueling tanker.

Senate sources confirmed the West Plains base is on a list of possible locations for the first KC-46A refueling jets when they roll off the Boeing assembly lines later this decade. Air Force officials briefed members of Congress this afternoon on this and other plans for their bases.
 
Fairchild, along with Air Force bases in Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma are on a list to be “main operating base 1” which would be the first new home for replacements to the KC-135 tanker, which has been a mainstay of the Air Force refueling fleet since the 1950s. That would mean as many as 36 KC-46As would be assigned to the base, and the older tankers would be reassigned or retired.
 
The preferred location and “reasonable alternatives” for base 1 is scheduled to be announced this spring and the final decision is expected in spring 2014.
 
The listing of Fairchild brought cheers from members of the Washington delegation heavily involved in pushing for the base.  
Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, jointly announced Fairchild's inclusion on the list, noting they  had sent letters in 2011 and 2012 to U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, highlighting the benefits to basing the tankers in Spokane… 
 
To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog

WA Delegation to Air Force: Put new tankers at Fairchild

Washington's congressional delegation is a diverse group that doesn't agree on much, whether it's who's waging a “war on women” or what's the right policy on taxes, budget cuts, health care reform or immigration.

But they managed to rally around one favorite topic this morning: Putting the first new KC-46A tankers at Fairchild Air Force Base.

OK, so it's kind of a no-brainer that planes assembled in the state at a Boeing plant would stay in the state at Fairchild. Still, all nine representatives and both senators signed on to a letter today to Air Force Secretary Mike Donley and various generals that Fairchild would be a really great spot for the first '46As because it has both Active Duty and Air National Guard units that fly tankers, an improved runway, and is close to the Asia-Pacific theater. That plus the federal government has spent about $400 million on a wide range of improvements over the last few decades. (Stuff that we assume the secretary and the generals already know, but hey, they're busy guys so it probably doesn't hurt to remind them.)

A copy of the full letter is inside the blog.

Air Force sets standards for new tanker base

The Air Force released the criteria today for deciding which of its bases will get the first new air refueling tankers, and Fairchild will be among about 60 bases being considered.

That means the Air Force won't limit those first KC-46As to a base that already serves as a current home for tankers, but will look at most facilities in the continental United States. The main criteria for making this first list for consideration?

“A runway,” a spokeswoman for the officer of the Secretary of the Air Force said after a short description of the criteria was released. That's essentially all bases with airplanes, although not every Air Force base has planes, Ann Stefanek said.

From that most basic of necessities for a jet patterned after the Boeing 767 commercial airliner, the Air Force will consider other important details, such as the capacity of the fueling system, available space on the runway, size of hangars, proximity to planes needing to be refueled, airspace availability, environmental considerations and costs.

The Air Force expects to have scores for all the potential bases sometime this summer, Stefanek said, and narrow the list further to a small group of top scorers from which the preferred site and reasonable alternatives will be chosen late this year.

The Air Force began briefing members of Congress and posted the criteria briefly on its website this afternoon. It later removed the criteria, even though it kept a link with a picture of a prototype of the new tanker refueling a cargo plane that promised information about the criteria.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said she believes the criteria puts Fairchild Air Force Base in a ” very competitive position” to be an early home for the new planes, which will be built in Everett: “I'm confident that Fairchild's long tanker history, strong community support and joint operations between the Active Duty and Guard place it in an ideal position to succeed.”

The West Plains base has a new runway and a new wing headquarters under construction, Murray said in an e-mail. A letter from the state's congressional delegation to Air Force leaders on how the base stacks up to the criteria could be sent as soon as Tuesday.

To read the Air Force announcement of criteria for the first two new tanker bases, and the tanker “formal training unit, click here to go inside the blog.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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