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AF Narrowing Potential Boeing KC-46 Tanker Host Sites; Mark Welsh Comments

Gen. Mark Welsh
Gen. Mark Welsh

The U.S. Air Force has selected nine bases as finalist candidates to potentially host a Boeing-made refueling tanker and will announce its selections in spring 2013, the branch’s news service reports.

Four bases are candidates to become the first active-duty led main operating base for the KC-46A and five others are candidates to become the first Air National Guard-led base hosting the tanker.

Altus Air Force Base, Okla. and McConnell AFB, Kan. are in the running to host both an active-duty operating base and also host the formal training unit for the program.

Gen. Mark Welsh, chief of staff, said the branch is acquiring 179 KC-46As as part a three-phase initiative to replace 400 KC-135s and 59 KC-10s, with the first phase scheduled to complete deliveries in fiscal 2028.

“The KC-135 units not replaced with the KC-46A will continue to fly the KC-135R for the foreseeable future,” Welsh said. “Throughout tanker recapitalization, the Air Force is committed to ensuring continued support of combatant commander requirements.”

For the evaluations, major commands will survey each candidate base and formulate cost estimates of hosting the tanker at each site for selection by the Air Force secretary and chief of staff.

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