$32 million in construction for additional tankers at MacDill expected in next few years
The Pentagon expects to budget $32 million for infrastructure upgrades at MacDill Air Force Base to support new KC-135 jet tankers being transferred to Tampa, Department of Defense officials told five members of the Tampa Bay area's congressional delegation on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and Repubican representatives Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, David Jolly of Indian Shores, Rich Nugent of Spring Hill and Dennis Ross of Lakeland met at Castor's office with a group from the Pentagon that included Kathleen Ferguson, principal deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment and logistics.
During the discussion, according to Castor's staff, the delegation focused on the infrastructure projects needed to support eight new KC-135 jet tankers and nearly 300 new personnel that the Air Force has said it plans to move to MacDill in 2018. MacDill already is home to 16 of the KC-135 "Stratotankers."
“Additional aircraft and personnel means economic expansion and jobs for the Tampa Bay area,” Castor said in a statement after the meeting. "Ensuring MacDill’s vitality helps to sustain the vitality of our local economy."
In response, Ferguson told the bay area legislators that the $32 million in construction funds probably will be programmed in the next couple of years.
Along with bringing the additional KC-135s, the Air Force should consider basing some of its next generation of tankers, the KC-46, at MacDill, Castor said. The discussion also touched on what she said was MacDill's need for a a new mission support facility, expanded base housing and a Joint Aquatic Training Center.