WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) spoke to his colleagues in the Senate yesterday about the U.S. Air Force’s current evaluation process for the future home of our nation’s new fleet of tanker aircraft. The Air Force is considering McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, among a number of others, as the Main Operating Base 1, for 36 KC-46A tankers entering service in 2016.
The Air Force’s strategic basing criteria focuses primarily on factors related to the mission, capacity, environmental requirements and cost factors at each tanker base. This information will be used to identify candidate bases for the Main Operating Base 1. After the release of the candidate bases, Air Mobility Command will conduct site surveys at each candidate base. Site survey teams will assess each location against operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, manpower, and develop cost estimates.
Excerpts from Sen. Moran’s remarks can be found below, along with links to audio and video downloads.
“Looking at the geography of the United States, it is clear McConnell serves as one of the best air mobility bases in the country. Strategically located in our nation’s heartland – equidistant from both coasts – McConnell’s location is one of its greatest assets. To this point, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and the 931st Air Refueling Group at McConnell are frequently called upon for refueling missions, within a one-thousand mile ‘service radius’ of the base, which further highlights the reliability of this location in the Midwest for peacetime or overseas missions.”
“McConnell also has a clear advantage in personnel because it houses both Active and Reserve airmen and women in the air mobility mission. The Air Force calls this arrangement a ‘Classic Association,’ and McConnell is one of only a few bases in the country that can boast this level of coordination between their Active and Reserve in air mobility missions.”
“When it comes to Air Force air mobility missions, there are four components that make a mission successful: Airmen, Command and Control, Infrastructure and Equipment. McConnell Air Force Base not only has the extremely capable Airmen of the 22nd and 931st, but it also has the proven Command and Control to handle a myriad of operational needs and a sprawling infrastructure with enormous capacity. In fact, McConnell will soon have the newest runway in the Air Force at a length of 12,000 feet – which more than exceeds requirements for the first round of tankers.”
“The Air Force has made clear that the acquisition and recapitalization of the KC-46A is their top priority. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz said it best when he stated: ‘The KC-46A tanker is a critical force multiplier and essential to the way this nation fights its wars and provides humanitarian support around the globe.’ I agree completely. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley while at the Farnborough Air Show, and I emphasized the need to base KC-46A tankers at McConnell Air Force Base in order to meet this demand for global mobility.”