ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. - Altus Air Force Base is officially in the running to become the Formal Training Unit for the KC-46A tanker aircraft.
Today, the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff approved Altus AFB and McConnell AFB, Kan. as candidate bases for the FTU. Altus AFB was also selected one of four candidates for the first active-duty led Main Operating Base.
The Air Force took a deliberate, enterprise-wide look across the service to identify the best fit for the KC-46A for training and operational needs.
With the release of the candidate bases, the Air Force will accomplish site surveys to begin evaluating Altus’ operational and infrastructure requirements. The results of the site survey will be briefed to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff, who will then select preferred and reasonable alternatives for the FTU and MOB locations in the spring of 2013. The final basing decisions will be made in the spring of 2014.
The KC-46A is the first of a 3-phase effort to replace more than 400 KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft Air Force wide.
“The KC-46A will have enhanced refueling capacity and capabilities, improved efficiency, and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation as compared to the KC-135R, making it a vital component to maintaining our global reach for years to come,” said General Mark Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff.
Bringing the KC-46A online is an important step in recapitalizing our tanker fleet, but the importance of continuing KC-135 upgrade efforts and its role as the backbone of the air refueling fleet has been emphasized.
“I want to stress that the KC-135 units not replaced with the KC-46A will continue to fly the KC-135R for the foreseeable future,” said Welsh. Together, the KC-10 Extender, KC-135 and KC-46 represent an air refueling capability that will ensure unrivaled global reach and support to joint warfighters and humanitarian relief.
“Leadership at Altus Air Force Base has full confidence and trust in the Air Force’s deliberate enterprise-wide look for KC-46A basing,” said Col. Anthony Krawietz, the 97th Air Mobility Wing commander. “Whatever the decision, the “Mighty 97th” will continue to forge combat mobility forces and deploy Airman warriors. My responsibility is to execute the assigned mission by leading dedicated Airmen and by marshaling the resources of this base and community to that effect.”
The FTU and MOB 1 will begin receiving aircraft in fiscal year 2016.