Today, U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) announced that the United States Air Force recognized the critical role Kansas plays in our national security and global air mobility by selecting both McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) in Wichita and Forbes Airfield in Topeka as finalists for the basing of the KC-46A tanker program. McConnell AFB is a finalist for the Main Operating Base (MOB#1) and the Formal Training Unit (FTU), and Forbes Airfield is a finalist for the Main Operating Base (MOB#2).
"Today's selection of not just one, but both Kansas Air Force bases is a testament to the critical role our state plays in supporting all branches of our military and allied partners as they carry out missions overseas and at home," Sen. Moran said. "Strategically positioned in the heart of the United States, the location, capacity and mission of McConnell and Forbes make both bases exceptionally equipped to provide air mobility globally at a moment's notice. Our efforts to ensure this outcome began months ago when we, along with state leaders, met with Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh to make certain he understood the value of air mobility assets in Kansas. I had the opportunity to visit with leaders at McConnell AFB this past Sunday and was reminded why McConnell is the premiere "super tanker' base in the nation."
"It is no wonder Kansas has two bases being considered for an important new mission, the KC-46A," Sen. Roberts said. "With McConnell the top installation in the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, and a front-runner in the Command-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Award competition, and with the many opportunities for growth and performance at Forbes Field in Topeka, Kansas airmen and airwomen time and again demonstrate their steadfast dedication and hard work in contributing to the security of the United States. And, we have a great support network of civilian staff, neighbors and friends that help each installation achieve excellence."
In addition to meeting with General Welsh to convey Kansas' long-standing history of service and support to air power, in June 2012, Sens. Moran and Roberts sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley to encourage the selection of McConnell AFB as the first MOB #1 for the KC-46A tanker.
With rising maintenance and support costs, the transition from the 50-year-old KC-135 tankers to KC-46A tankers is the U.S. Air Force's top acquisition and recapitalization priority. Starting in 2016, the base selected as MOB#1 will support 36 active-duty KC-46A tankers. The MOB#1 location will be selected based on criteria including mission, capacity, environmental impact and cost. McConnell AFB is competing against other Active Duty, Classic Association bases for the MOB#1 and FTU basing. Forbes is competing against other Air National Guard-led, Active Association bases.