The Kansas National Guard 190th Air Refueling Wing at Forbes Field, Topeka, and Wichita’s McConnell Air Force Base have been selected as two of potential active duty and National Guard sites to receive the new KC-46A air refueling tanker being developed by Boeing as a replacement for the oldest KC-135 Stratotankers in the U.S Air Force fleet.
“The Department of Defense selection of Kansas as one of the finalists who may receive this new tanker is yet another confirmation of the tremendous value our state’s military installations provide to the nation’s defense. Our airmen and women and their families sacrifice a great deal to serve their nation. They deserve nothing but the best aircraft available to help them perform their missions effectively and bring them home safely,” said Gov. Sam Brownback.
“Forbes Field and McConnell Air Force Base are ideal locations for these new tankers,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general. “Kansas is centrally located, reducing the flight time to either coast. Both Forbes Field and McConnell have room to grow and expand as needed, and have outstanding facilities and airmen.”
The Kansas National Guard is one of five sites chosen in the Guard and Reserve category while McConnell made one of the two active duty base lists.
Tafanelli said the Kansas National Guard expressed interest in receiving the tankers because of the new opportunities they would present.
“If we are selected to receive the new tanker, it will expand our potential for new missions,” said Tafanelli. “Tankers perform air refueling missions vital to the security of our nation. We already perform aero medical evacuations for wounded military personnel and can deploy Expeditionary Medical Support mobile hospitals quickly in emergency situations. There are many possibilities that come with these new capabilities.”
Col. Ron Krueger, commander of the 190th Air Refueling Wing, said the selection strengthens the wing's long-term viability and will help ensure continued aerial refueling excellence the 190th has provided since 1978 with the KC-135 Stratotanker.
"This new tanker would be a natural fit for us because we have the facilities for it, extremely skilled airmen, and we know this mission," said Krueger. "Whether operating and maintaining the KC-46 or continuing with the KC-135, we have a strong future supporting the United States and coalition air power across the globe."
currently flies the KC-135R Stratotanker air refueling tanker, which has been in service for more than 50 years.