Reading some press releases available online would make one think the selection process is almost complete. But out of those bases competing for the FTU and MOB1, the much shorter candidate list will be out sometime this summer. According to Air Force Today, those bases on the candidate list will be toured by the Air Mobility Command site survey teams in the fall. The Environmental Impact Analysis Process (EIAP) for the preferred and reasonable alternatives for the FTU and MOB1 are slated to begin in Dec. of this year and spring 2013 (Globalsecurity.com). The EIAP for MOB2 will also begin in 2013. The FTU and MOB1 will receive tankers in fiscal year (FY) 2016, with MOB2 in FY 2018 (Defense-aerospace.com).
Among the many criteria, factors will be considered on a weighted scale, according to Dr. Joe Leverett, Altus Military Affairs Committee Chairman. The criteria for the FTU includes: “missions (proximity of aircraft available to support air refueling training, student throughput, aircrew training systems, fuels considerations, and the potential to establish an association) capacity (hangars, runway, ramp space and facility considerations), environmental requirements and cost factors,” (www.af.mil).
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) elaborated on some of the criteria by saying, “The location must support receiver training with KC-135, tanker training with heavy aircraft, a runway that supports max gross-weight takeoffs, two hangars and at least eight parking pads, facilities to house a Squadron Operations and Aircraft Maintenance Unit, a student training center and potential to support transient student personnel housing requirements.”
Based on those factors, it’s easy to see why Altus AFB is being considered for the FTU. May 15, the day after the criteria for the new KC-46A tanker was released Inhofe said, “Of the 54 Air Force installations being considered, Altus Air Force Base in Altus, Oklahoma is a potential candidate for selection…The location of Altus and its infrastructure provides the perfect site for the KC-46A Formal Training Unit (FTU), meeting or exceeding every one of the criteria established by the Air Force,” said Inhofe. “In the coming months, I look forward to working with the Air Force as they select candidate bases this summer and ultimately announce the final KC-46A FTU basing decision next winter.”
Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), sent Col. (Ret.) Anthony “Lazer” Lazarski, to attend the reactivation of the 730th AMT Squadron At Altus AFB, on Wednesday, June 13. While in town, Lazarski, Inhofe’s Military Legislative Assistant, visited with Nub Smith, Vice-Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee.
Lazarski said of the KC-46A project, “Replacing our aging tanker is long overdue and has been a priority for my boss, Senator Inhofe. The KC-46A achieves that priority and is critical to this nation’s defense and security. Based on the stated needs of the Air Force and the established KC-46A basing criteria, I believe Oklahoma will play a key role in the operation, training and maintenance of the KC-46A. Tinker Air Force Base has already been chosen to maintain and sustain the KC-46A and Altus Air Force Base is well positioned to be chosen as the location for its formal training unit.”
Some competing bases are using various methods to try to get on the candidates’ list.
Fairchild Air Force Base has launched an all-out campaign for the MOB1. FAFB, in Spokane, Wash., is the home of the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling Wings. It’s in the snowbelt, right off the Pacific Ocean, giving them quick refueling access to Asia. A Washington state delegation, including their Governor Christine Gregoire, has informed the USAF Secretary Michael B. Donley of the many advantages of their base would have as the MOB1. According to the Air Force Times, FAFB has improved their 14,000 foot runway, has a new fitness center and has just started construction on a new Wing Command Headquarters.
Pease Air National Guard Base in coastal New Hampshire is one of the bases that hopes to be seriously considered for the MOB2. Though Pease is placed squarely in an area with high snowfall and hit by Nor’easters, they still feel other advantages outweigh some of Mother Nature’s gifts.
According to the 157th Air Refueling Wing’s web site (www.157arw.ang.af.mil), “…many factors that make Pease a leading choice for the new aircraft. Among them the base has one of the longest runways, operates with a cost-effective hybrid of Air National Guard and active duty Air Force personnel and is well placed along the operational flight path to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”
Apparently, the weather or climate may not have a lot to do with possible choice of these tanker bases. Altus may not have control over the weather either, but seven action teams are gearing for action for a site survey group to tour our community.