Wichita got a great, well-timed boost with today’s news that McConnell Air Force Base will be the main active-duty operating base for the KC-46A tankers, emerging the winner in the 54-base field. McConnell also was in the running to become a formal training base for the new tankers, a job won by Altus, Okla. But McConnell got what it wanted most with the Air Force’s decision, meaning it can expect to receive 36 new tankers in 2016 and the jobs and economic benefits of hosting them. That’s the perfect role for McConnell, which is currently the world’s largest tanker base, with 62 KC-135s, and the home of the Air Force’s 22nd Air Refueling Wing and the Air Force Reserves’ 931st Air Refueling Group. So even though Boeing Wichita won’t help build the tankers after all, due to Boeing’s decision to leave town by the end of this year, many of those planes will end up calling Wichita home. As Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, said in a statement: “We’re thrilled that McConnell AFB has been recognized as an indispensable part of America’s defenses and excited about the opportunities this creates for the rest of Kansas.” Congratulations and thanks to all who fought for and won this exciting new role for McConnell and Wichita.
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