Why Washington state didn't receive the KC-46A

By Melanie Casey on June 3, 2013

The Air Force has officially announced that the first active-duty led KC-46A main operating base (MOB 1) will be located at McConnell AFB in Kansas.  

According to the results of the Air Force's site surveys, the selection of McConnell AFB will allow for the Special Operations Air Refueling training mission to remain close to its primary customers in the Southeast.

Fairchild AFB, located in Spokane and home to the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, was chosen to be one of two alternative bases - a decision that did not sit well with Gov. Jay Inslee given that Boeing built the KC-46A aircraft.

"This is an extremely unfortunate decision by the Air Force. Fairchild Air Force Base has a strong tradition as an integral part of our national defense and is ideally located, particularly as U.S. strategy calls for directing greater attention to the Pacific theater. The Air Force's decision today does not follow that important national policy," Inslee wrote in a public statement.

"Fairchild also had a clear advantage through its solid relationship with the Washington Air National Guard 141st Air Refueling Wing. I want to thank Spokane County, Washington's Congressional delegation, state lawmakers, our Military Department, Fairchild First, the Washington Military Alliance and the entire Fairchild community for their hard work in trying to get these Washington-built planes based in Washington."

The 179 planned KC-46A aircraft are first phase of a multi-pronged effort to replace more than 400 KC-135, which are used at Fairchild, and 59 KC-10 aircraft.

"Our KC-135s are critical to fueling the fight and fueling freedom, now and for the foreseeable future," said 92nd Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Brian Newberry. "While the KC-46A is an important step in recapitalizing the tanker fleet, we will continue to perform our critical mission of worldwide aerial refueling with the venerable KC-135."