Air Force officials announce the KC-46A Pegasus will be based in California and New Jersey.
Dover Air Force Base has lost out on the opportunity for a new mission as the Air Force announced Thursday a new refueling aircraft would be stationed at bases in New Jersey and California.
Air Force officials did not indicate why Dover was passed over.
According to an Air Force press release, military officials selected Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Travis Air Force Base, California, as the preferred locations for the next two active-duty-led KC-46A Pegasus bases.
Twenty-four KC-46A aircraft will replace the KC-10 aircraft at each of those bases.
“Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst and Travis AFB were chosen as the next two active-duty-led KC-46A bases because they meet all operational mission requirements at the best value for the Air Force and the American taxpayer and support our tanker recapitalization strategy,” outgoing Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. “It is absolutely essential that we continue investing in the next generation of tanker aircraft so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation's global reach for years to come.”
James said Fairchild AFB, Washington, and Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, will be considered as reasonable alternatives during the environmental impact analysis process which is required before a final basing decision is made.
At this time, the Air Force is planning to retire the KC-10 tankers after growing the tanker fleet to meet its 479 tanker requirement. The timeline is dependent on the KC-46A delivery schedule, but it is not anticipated to reach sufficient KC-46A fleet size to allow the KC-10 to be retired until 2019.
Col. Ethan Griffin, commander of the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover, said those at the base were proud to have been considered for the air refueling mission.
“It’s a testament to our Dover airmen and outstanding community that a non-tanker base, such as ourselves, progressed to final consideration for this important, national mission.
“We will continue providing tactical and strategic airlift capability through our C-5M and C-17 fleet, while hosting the Department of Defense’s sole Port-Mortuary and the East Coast’s largest aerial port, for years to come.”
Dover once was home to the 11th Air Refueling Squadron, whose headquarters was at Westover AFB, Massachusetts. The 11th ARS flew the KC-97 at Dover from June 1960 until June 1965.