Grissom Air Reserve Base has not been selected to be the primary home of a new class of military refueling aircraft. The installation in Cass and Miami counties has been named a "reasonable alternative" by the U.S. Air Force for the first Reserve-led KC-46A Pegasus fleet.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina is the preferred alternative for the aircraft. The other finalists were Tinker AFB in Oklahoma and Westover ARB in Massachusetts.
The KC-46As will begin arriving at Seymour Johnson during the 2019 fiscal year.
Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Installations Jennifer Miller says "Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina was selected based on operational analysis, results of site surveys, cost, and military judgment factors. The primary drivers for selecting this location as the preferred alternative were its lower costs and its highly successful existing active-duty association, which will lead to the lowest active-duty manpower required to stand up the KC-46A Reserve unit."
The Air Force says the reasonable alternatives will "continue to be evaluated" as part of an environmental impact analysis process. It adds the candidates not selected as the first location will "likely compete" for future basing decisions for the KC-46, as similar criteria will be used.
The Air Force says the advantages of the KC-46A include:
- boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie
- worldwide navigation and communication
- cargo capacity on the entire main deck floor
- receiver air refueling
- improved force protection and survivability
- multi-point air refueling capability.
The 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are the first of a three-phase plan to replace the military’s aging fleet of tankers. The winner was chosen based on surveys of each base, considering factors including operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower.