Milestone reached in construction of new KC-46 hangar on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
By GEORGE WOOLSTON | The Burlington County Times | Published: November 28, 2020
JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX- LAKEHURST (Tribune News Service) — Construction on the future home of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst's new KC-46 tanker jets has reached a major milestone.
Officials Wednesday celebrated the steel-topping of the new 50,000 square-foot, two-bay KC-46 aircraft hangar, a significant step showing the base is ready to start housing the next generation refueling tanker jets.
The hangar, once completed, will be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the 24 KC-46 tanker jets once they arrive at the base, which is expected around December 2021.
"It demonstrates for the base we're completing this facility and we're ready to start housing the KC-46," U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Justin Taydus said.
Taydus serves as the liaison between the 305th Air Mobility Wing, who will be operating the tanker jets, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and contractors working on the construction of the hangar.
"Part of having the aircraft at the base is being able to conduct maintenance inspections immediately and on a regular basis. So having these facilities here ready, especially as wintertime is coming, is going to pay dividends," Taydus said.
Construction on the $53 million hangar is expected to be completed in July 2021, said Paul Jalowski, resident engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the base.
"Right now, the next big milestone would be to get the building closed in before the real weather turns so we can keep working on the inside," Jalowski said.
Construction began in December 2018.
The new state-of-the-art air-refueling jets being built by Boeing will become the new workhorse for the Air Force's Air Mobility Wing.
"The Joint Base plays a critical role in our national security and our state's economy, and the incoming KC-46 tankers will strengthen both," U.S. Congressman Donald Norcross said.
Their arrival is also expected to protect the Joint Base and the thousands of jobs that rely on it.
"The KC-46 mission is critical to the future of our Joint Base and our community. This construction milestone demonstrates the progress we've made and serves as a reminder of the work remaining," said U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown.
The base is home to over 40,000 jobs, making it the state's second largest employer.
"Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst not just plays a vital role in our nation's defense, but it also helps support local businesses and drive South Jersey's economy. I am looking forward to the new KC-46s being delivered and the beginning of the next chapter in the Joint Base's history," U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said.
The KC-46 is known for its advanced refueling capabilities, including the ability to refuel two aircraft simultaneously and capacity to get refueled in flight itself, according to military officials, as well as carry cargo passengers and be used for air medical evacuations.
The new tanker jets are intended to replace the Air Force's entire fleet of its 1980s era KC-10 tankers and a large portion of its even older KC-135s, which date back to the 1950s.
"We already have a history of air refueling with the KC-10, as well as the KC-135 which the Air National Guard houses on the other side (of the base)," Taydus said. "So, continuing that legacy of having air refueling tankers here is huge for us."