Eleven installations are in the running to host the KC-46 air refueling tanker in the Air Force’s next round of selection, lawmakers said last week.
The installations, according to a release from Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), are Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; Dover AFB, Del.; Dyess AFB, Texas; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; Scott AFB, Ill.; and Travis AFB, Calif.
The Air Force will narrow the list of approved candidates in the spring and likely will make a final basing decision by the end of the year, said Jeff Sagnip, a spokesman for Smith. Boeing is manufacturing the next generation aerial refueling tankers.
“Three years ago, the joint base narrowly lost out on becoming the first National Guard base to host the KC-46 tankers — making it to the final round after the original 80 installations were reviewed,” said Smith, who represents a large portion of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
One of the New Jersey installation’s primary advantages is its proximity to Europe, Africa and the Middle East, where the tankers are primarily used, Sagnip told the Asbury Park Press. “It would be a superb fit,” Sagnip said. “We’re ideally located. It’s the shortest distance between Europe and the Middle East.”
In a news conference at MacDill on Thursday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke about the Air Force tankers, but declined to speculate about MacDill’s chances of hosting the new aircraft, reported the Tampa Tribune.
“The Air Force is looking nationwide for optimal locations,” Carter said.
“This announcement shows just how hard MacDill leaders, the bipartisan Tampa Bay congressional delegation and the Tampa Bay community have worked to demonstrate that the base has room to grow as the Air Force modernizes its mission structure,” Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who represents MacDill, said in a press release.