Altus Air Force Base will play a major role in the new fleet of KC-46 tanker planes by serving as a training site for crews, giving the Air Force a more effective option for refueling its other planes midflight.
The KC-46 has been nicknamed the”Pegasus,” and is designed to replace the KC-135 “Stratotankers.” The new tanker, which features a multipoint refueling system, will allow it to refuel two smaller planes at once.
Boeing, the aircraft’s manufacturer, is scheduled to deliver the first 18 plans to the Air Force by August 2017, but the Pegasus could be delayed. The reasons include wiring design and air refueling system issues, delaying the production and delivery date by about four months.
“There have been new stories about Boeing’s delay of the KC-46A,” said Dr. Joe Leverett , chairman of the Military Affairs Committee. “We were to have jets in Altus in the Spring of 2017 and now it would be probably summer of 2017. This delay is not a bad thing for Altus. The base continues to hire maintainers, as well as the squadron’s plans of stand up in August and a plan for a grand celebration with dedication of the buildings. The Air Force must have this new tanker. The plane is still coming to Altus and the positive economic growth is already happening.”
The base has spent millions on construction and renovations to prepare for the plane’s arrival. Those projects include office space, training areas, a flight training center and fuselage training center that will house simulator systems.
“Altus Air Force Base looks forward to the arrival of the KC-46 ‘Pegasus,’ ” said Col. Todd A. Hohn, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander. “We are committed to ensure the wing is fully prepared for the arrival of the aircraft, associated personnel and their families. The upcoming activation of the 56th Air Refueling Squadron, along with the dedication of the formal training center and fuselage trainer are strong indicators of the Air Force’s commitment to the program. We continue to work to ensure that the partnership between the base and local community is positioned for the success of the Air Force’s newest tanker program.”
Reach Mary O. Esparza at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.