The Air Force will discuss the possible effects of sending its first new air-refueling tankers to its base on the West Plains at a meeting next Tuesday.
A session described as a drop-in open house scoping meeting will allow the military to show the public what it would mean to have Fairchild Air Force Base as the first main operating base for the new KC-46A and let members of the public say what they think about it.
It’s one of four such sessions the Air Force is holding around the country at communities near bases in the running to be the first to receive a squadron of the new planes that will replace the aging KC-135s. The KC-135s have been a mainstay of the military for more than 50 years.
The open house for Fairchild will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Lincoln Center, 1316 N. Lincoln St. There’s no formal presentation from the Air Force, and no formal public testimony period. Instead, an Air Force announcement says the meeting will be “an open house information session and the public can drop in at any time.” People can speak with Air Force personnel individually about locating the plane at the base, which the military calls a “beddown.”
The Air Force must prepare an environmental impact statement on the effects of basing the planes at each facility. It is also going through a similar process for selecting a location for a training facility for the new planes, although Fairchild is not a candidate for that.
Other bases being considered for the first squadron of tankers are Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma, Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota and McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.
Boeing will produce 179 KC-46A tankers, a modified version of its 767 commercial jetliner, at its Everett plant. The first 18 are scheduled to be delivered to the Air Force by 2017.