Air Force representatives received formal comments from the Altus community on the Environmental Impact Study after presenting potential consequences of bringing the KC-46A Formal Training Unit (FTU) to Altus Air Force Base, during a Public Hearing on Thursday, Nov. 14, held at the Southwestern Technology Center in Altus.
Lt. Col. Natalie Richardson was the Hearing Officer who explained the purpose and agenda of the hearing before introducing Col. Bill Spangenthal, 97th Air Mobility Wing Commander and other Altus AFB representatives. Lt. Col. Richardson then introduced Col. Todd Cargle, Air Mobility Command, who presented information on the proposed action for the KC-46A beddown and their alternatives.
Col. Cargle presented details on the preferred alternative to bring the FTU of up to eight KC-46A aircraft to AAFB. The FTU will train personnel to operate the KC-46A, and could result in 10 new facilities projects including construction, demolition, and renovations, and increase the local population by 578. The FTU would utilize four different auxiliary airfields and increase annual Aircraft Operations by 38 percent.
Col. Cargle also provided the alternative of having the Main Operating Base 1 (MOB) of 36 new aircraft at AAFB. The population would increase by 4,917, with 31 facilities projects, no use of auxiliary airfields, and increase annual Aircraft Operations by 31 percent.
“We would like to emphasize that although preferred alternatives for FTU and MOB1 have been announced, no final decision has been made on either of the two KC-46A missions currently under analysis of the draft EIS,” Col. Carlge said. “Once the requirements of the environmental impact analysis process are complete, the Air Force will make its final basing decision.”
Following was an analysis presented by Dale Clark, Chief of the National Environmental Protection Agency Center, on the draft EIS and the potential consequences for having either the FTU or MOB-1 at AAFB and alternative bases. Clark stated that implementation of the FTU would expose an additional 584 acres of off-base land and 17 off-base residents to noise levels of 65 decibels or greater, located mostly North and South of base runways, while MOB-1 implementation would expose an additional 155 acres of off-base land and 6 off-base residents to noise levels of 65 decibels or greater.
“Other than the noise increases, no other resource areas are anticipated to be impacted by the FTU mission,” Clark said. Jackson County would also have a 2.2 percent population increase of 578 dependents and students, and subsequent infrastructure projects would have a positive economic impact on the County and surrounding areas.
Following the presentations and a brief recess period, the public was then allowed to issue their formal comments to Air Force representatives.
The first to comment was Senator Mike Schulz. “We’re excited about the opportunity to utilize the assets, not only at Altus AFB, but also at Clinton Sherman Industrial Airpark,” Schulz said. “Both of which are tremendous assets for the Air Force and the State of Oklahoma, and I certainly thank you all for your time. Thank you.”
Next, and final public member to comment was Dr. Joe Leverett, Chairman of the Altus Military Affairs Committee. “On behalf of the Military Affairs Committee we are excited that you are here,” Dr. Leverett began. “We are excited that Altus is considered the beddown for the KC-46A FTU… Altus is the most logical base for the beddown of the KC-46A. Co-location for the C-17 and KC-135 makes it the perfect training environment. We have a national treasure in our airspace, the proximity to our refueling tracts, and we are excited about the process. Centralized training has been a mainstay of the Air Force here, and we feel that is the best process to continue to train tankers and air lifters. The Military Affairs Committee, the Chamber [Altus Chamber of Commerce], and the City of Altus will do everything we can to make sure that this beddown goes smoothly. Remember that Altus is a community that has great air space, rent space, and a community that loves the Air Force. Thank you.”
Lt. Col. Richardson informed that Comments will be considered in the decision making process and published in the final EIS, to be release in March, 2014. Following will be a 30 day waiting period before the Air Force signs the Final Record of Decision.
The public can submit a written comment about the EIS postmarked before Dec. 9, and mail it to: Ms. Jean Reynolds, AFCEC/CZN Bldg. 171, Lackland, AFB TX 78236