U.S. Air Force recognizes critical role Kansas plays in national security and global air mobility
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback applauded the U.S. Air Force’s selection of the McConnell Air Force Base as its first operational Active Duty Air Force base for the KC-46 tanker, also known as MOB 1.
“The USAF’s selection of McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita as the Preferred Alternative to operate the KC-46A is great news for Kansas and is a credit to the men and women at McConnell,” Governor Brownback said. “This major milestone could not have occurred without the community support received from the citizens of Wichita, our Delegation and the people of Kansas.”
The next stage of the Air Force’s KC-46 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process will include the release of a Draft EIS and a public comment period. This will lead ultimately to a Record of Decision (ROD) which the Air Force has projected will occur in the Spring of 2014. McConnell, which was evaluated along with bases in North Dakota, Washington and Oklahoma, would be the home base for 36 KC-46A tankers, subject to a favorable ROD affirming the selection of McConnell as the Preferred Alternative.
“Although there is more work ahead, we are very grateful for this reaffirmation by the Air Force of the critical role which McConnell plays in meeting its world-wide requirements,” Brownback said. “The demonstrated ability of the 22nd and the 931st to work jointly was a positive attribute in the evaluation of McConnell.”
The aircraft will be operated in cooperation by the Active Duty 22nd Air Refueling Wing, and the 931st Air Refueling Group of the Air Force Reserve; an Active Association between the Units is currently in place.
While Wednesday’s announcement brought positive news to the City of Wichita and McConnell AFB, another unit, the 190th Air Refueling Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard, operating from Forbes Military Airfield in Topeka, was under consideration to serve as the Reserve Component KC-46 basing site. The Air Force selected Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire to host the mission for which Forbes and four other bases competed for selection.
“Realistically, it was highly unlikely that two bases in the same State would be selected to host the initial round of KC-46 bases, but the fact that Kansas was the only state which had two bases in consideration speaks of the high quality of the personnel at both bases,” Governor Brownback noted. “General Tafanelli and I couldn’t be more impressed with the 190th Wing for the capabilities they offer, and the professional approach they took in competing for the KC-46A Reserve Component site.”
The State of Kansas, City of Wichita, and Kansas Congressional Delegation will now prepare for the public comment and review period. Brownback said they will work closely with the Air Force to show the American people that the confidence which the Department has shown in selecting McConnell Air Force Base for the KC-46 Active Duty Operational site was the best choice and a wise selection for this critical mission – now, and into the future.