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Pease Air National Guard Base evaluated for new KC-46A refueling tanker

PORTSMOUTH — A team of military experts has completed an evaluation of Pease Air National Guard Base to determine the feasibility of housing new refueling tankers in New Hampshire.

About two dozen U.S. Air Force specialists visited the base between Sunday, Feb. 10 and Friday, Feb. 15 to perform the review, according to Lt. Aaron McCarthy, wing executive officer of the 157th Air Refueling Wing.

Pease Air National Guard Base is one of five Guard facilities being considered by the Air Force to house a new line of KC-46A tankers, which are still in production.

The Air Force “site activation task force team” was expected to assess operational and training requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure, and manpower at the facility.

The Air Force is conducting similar reviews at the four other guard bases in the running to receive the new aircraft.

“The site survey teams go into all five candidate bases, and they pretty much, they come and look at the facilities — if it would be viable to put the plane on any of the bases,” McCarthy said.

Also being considered are Forbes Air Guard Station in Kansas, Joint-Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Pittsburgh International Airport Air Guard Station in Pennsylvania and Rickenbacker Air Guard Station in Ohio.

Once site surveys are complete, the Air Force will select “preferred” and alternative sites for the KC-46A tankers.

About 24 team members were on site last week, McCarthy said. The base was also asked to supply information to people who were participating remotely. The 157th Air Refueling Wing has yet to receive feedback from the visit, McCarthy said.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was scheduled to receive a briefing from officers from the 157th this morning at the base.

The Air Force has contracted with Boeing to make 179 KC-46As. The first tankers are scheduled to be available in fiscal 2016, and production is scheduled to continue for about another decade after that. The Air Guard base chosen to house the first KC-46As will begin receiving them in fiscal 2018.

 

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