Thursday, April 26, 2018
Military News

12 more tankers with 400 personnel may be headed to MacDill

TAMPA — A newly refurbished runway at MacDill Air Force Base may soon be getting busier.

The Tampa Bay Times has learned that MacDill is one of two bases competing to host 12 more KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling jets and the estimated 400 personnel who come with them.

That is in addition to 16 Stratotankers already there and another eight set to begin arriving this year.

The Air Force is moving the planes to make room for newer KC-46A Pegasus tankers — part of a $50 billion program to replace the aging fleet of Stratotankers with 179 new planes by 2028.

The 12 Stratotankers will be coming from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan., said Ann Stefanek, an Air Force spokeswoman. MacDill is competing with Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, Wash., for the older jets.

Stefanek said a decision will be made soon about the jets, which first rolled off the assembly lines when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House.

The eight Stratotankers scheduled to begin arriving this year will come with 220 active duty personnel and 75 reservists, the Air Force said. Approximately 400 personnel would be associated with 12 additional aircraft, Stefanek said.

She said the Air Force will decide between MacDill and Fairchild based on four criteria: mission, capacity, environmental considerations and cost.

The jets would be shared at MacDill by the 6th Air Mobility Wing, the base host unit, and the 927th Air Refueling Wing, an Air Force Reserve wing.

Crews from MacDill are helping to fuel the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. The base also provides refueling for domestic training missions.

Twice, the Air Force has found MacDill unsuitable to house the new tankers. But to be in the running for additional Statotankers is a sign MacDill is well-regarded by the Air Force, said the head of a local support organization pushing to bring the additional tankers to Tampa.

"MacDill is an ideal location," said Lisa Monnet, president of the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance, which is working with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, to advocate for the base.

MacDill, Monnet said, has "ample ramp, a large runway, growth capacity in the industrial zones, infrastructure and comprehensive strategies in the out-years to support the additional aircraft."

Beyond infrastructure, MacDill is also geographically well-positioned for the additional 12 jets, Monnet said.

Its location "is well-suited to provide air refueling support for the training of the newest fighter aircraft in the Air Force inventory and to act as a hub for any contingency" in the continental United States or overseas, she said.

"The Tampa Bay community has embraced the tanker mission for MacDill and is supportive of an additional 12 KC-135R tanker aircraft to be located at MacDill," Monnet said.

MacDill has the capacity and space to expand mobility operations to "easily handle" 36 or more aircraft, she said.

Aside from the jets, 23 Black Hawk helicopters from an Army Reserve unit now stationed at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport are also heading to MacDill.

"Cooperation with the FAA and Tampa International Airport is exceptional and the increased load should cause no congestion issues," Monnet said.

MacDill officials did not immediately comment.

Contact Howard Altman at [email protected] or (813) 225-3112. Follow @haltman.

Comments
Rescuing the rescuers from the trauma of seeing buddies crash to their deaths

Rescuing the rescuers from the trauma of seeing buddies crash to their deaths

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE — In his mind, Lee Von Hack-Prestinary kept circling the crash site.His friends were in the wreckage below, and he couldn’t help.The memory brought him to tears.Seated across from him, at Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa Beach...
Updated: 8 hours ago
SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

SOCom leader wanted to toss Google exec from car. Because he was right.

TAMPA — Standing in front of an audience of several thousand scientists, data wonks, geospatial intelligence analysts and other big thinkers, Army Gen. Tony Thomas drew some laughs when he talked about the time he felt the urge to toss Google CEO Eri...
Published: 04/26/18
Howard Altman: Why we’re so sure Assad is to blame for chemical attacks

Howard Altman: Why we’re so sure Assad is to blame for chemical attacks

Russia and Syria dismiss as a hoax the claims that the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons in the rebel-held enclave of Douma on April 7.So just how did the U.S. conclude Assad was to blame?It was largely Assad’s intent a...
Published: 04/26/18

Military sex assault reports jump 10 percent

WASHINGTON — U.S. officials say reports of sexual assaults across the military jumped by nearly 10 percent in 2017, a year that saw a massive online nude-photo sharing scandal rock the services, triggering greater awareness of sexual harassment and o...
Published: 04/25/18
Armed Forces History Museum collection has a new home, but new owner is a mystery

Armed Forces History Museum collection has a new home, but new owner is a mystery

LARGO — The contents of the Armed Forces History Museum have been sold, but no one is ready to talk about the future of the collection of military memorabilia.A collector named John Piazza used his personal collection to start the public museum, whic...
Published: 04/24/18
US veteran who survived blast receives penis transplant

US veteran who survived blast receives penis transplant

WASHINGTON — A Baltimore hospital says a wounded U.S. veteran has received the world’s most extensive penis transplant. Doctors at Johns Hopkins University say the transplant included the scrotum and part of the abdominal wall. They say the patient h...
Published: 04/23/18
Howard Altman: Tampa company analyzed strike on Syrian facilities

Howard Altman: Tampa company analyzed strike on Syrian facilities

After President Donald Trump announced the U.S., France and England had carried out attacks on three Syrian chemical weapons centers, a Tampa company began its own analysis of the bomb damage.The analysis, by geospatial intelligence firm Radiant Solu...
Published: 04/20/18
Howard Altman: Air Force turns to original Phillie Phanatic to develop mascot

Howard Altman: Air Force turns to original Phillie Phanatic to develop mascot

Air Mobility Command, the Air Force headquarters overseeing MacDill Air Force Base, wants to develop its own mascot to help interest children in a career with the flying branch. And they are turning to the original Phillie Phanatic, David Raymond, fo...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/12/18
Trump says U.S. to decide on response to ‘atrocious’ Syria chemical attack in 24 to 48 hours

Trump says U.S. to decide on response to ‘atrocious’ Syria chemical attack in 24 to 48 hours

Washington PostWASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that his administration would be making "major decisions" about its response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria within the next 24 to 48 hours, decrying the action as "atrocious" and...
Updated one month ago

North Korea tells US that Kim Jong Un ready to discuss nukes

Associated PressWASHINGTON — North Korea’s government has communicated with the United States to say that leader Kim Jong Un is ready to discuss his nuclear weapons program with President Donald Trump, officials said Sunday, increasing the likelihood...
Updated one month ago