Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay leaders tout MacDill Air Force Base as home for new refueling tankers

TAMPA — A delegation of Tampa Bay business and political leaders is launching a bipartisan effort to persuade the Pentagon to bring a fleet of the next generation of aerial refueling tankers to MacDill Air Force Base starting in 2017.

The effort opens what promises to be an intense competition among Air Force communities trying to land the new KC-46A tankers and whatever economic bounty the jets bring them.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said Wednesday she will head a group that includes Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn in a June 6 meeting in Washington, D.C., with the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, Kathleen Ferguson. The meeting will be followed by a kickoff reception called "MacDill Means Mobility" that includes members of Tampa Bay's congressional delegation.

"We are going to launch an effort to raise the profile of MacDill Air Force Base to convince the decisionmakers at the Air Force that MacDill is best situated" to get the new tankers, Castor said. "We have to raise our profile and make our case."

The Air Force expects to make a final decision on the three bases to receive the first KC-46A refuelers — two operational bases and one training center — over the next two years. But the Air Force will release its preferred selections starting later this year.

MacDill currently is home to 16 KC-135 refueling tankers, an Eisenhower-era jet nicknamed the stratotanker. The Air Force will gradually phase out 179 stratotankers over the next 20 years as 179 KC-46As replace them. The Boeing Co. expects to deliver the first 18 KC-46As in 2017.

Of the first three bases to be selected, the training center will get eight KC-46As and the larger of the two operational bases will receive 36 of the new jets.

The third operational base and its 12 refueling tankers must have a National Guard component, which would appear to exclude MacDill, Castor said.

The Air Force has said replacing its aging fleet of stratotankers is its top acquisition priority because of the rising maintenance costs associated with the older jets.

The Air Force in recent weeks released a set of mostly technical criteria it will use to determine which Air Force bases should get the first of the new aircraft. The criteria include things such as runway length, hangar space and fuel-storage capacity.

MacDill officials declined to comment.

Castor said MacDill appears to be well-situated to win the new tankers. The base is on a peninsula, she said, and so encroaching development is not an issue. She also said the runway length is adequate for the new, larger tankers.

"I don't see any drawbacks" to MacDill, Castor said.

Three other Air Force bases in the United States are home to more stratotankers than MacDill's 16, including McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, where 48 KC-135s are housed. And communities near some of those bases, including McConnell, have already launched efforts to sway Air Force decisionmakers, Castor said.

"We're all going to make the best cases for our communities," she said.

Even if MacDill loses out on this first round of KC-46A assignments, the base is expected to eventually win assignment of some new refuelers in years to come, base officials have said.

MacDill has a $2.87 billion economic impact on the Tampa Bay economy, the Air Force says.

William R. Levesque can be reached at levesque@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3432.

Tampa Bay leaders tout MacDill Air Force Base as home for new refueling tankers 05/30/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 11:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. A Taste of Tampa Bay: Noble Crust in St. Petersburg

    Food & Dining

    Noble Crust opened on north 4th Street in St. Petersburg, an area light on ambitious restaurants, in 2015. Chef Rob Reinsmith and his team are serving up a blend of southern cuisine and Italian-style cooking, including the restaurant's signature fried chicken. The Noble Crust brand recently expanded beyond its St. …

    Pizza at Noble Crust. [Photo by MONICA HERNDON | TIMES]
  2. HomeTeam 100: Players 11-20

    Footballpreps

    Armwood wide receiver Warren Thompson is seen during the spring football jamboree at Plant City High School in Plant City, Fla., on Thursday, May 19, 2016.
  3. Rays get relief help, acquire LHP Dan Jennings from White Sox

    Blogs

    The Rays got the relief help they were looking for, acquiring LHP Dan Jennings from the White Sox for prospect 1B Casey Gillaspie.

     

  4. Bar review: Cheap drinks do fine at the Joint in St. Petersburg

    Bars & Spirits

    The Tyrone area of St. Petersburg is a little light on drinking spots, so the locals must have been happy when a long-running neighborhood spot — formerly Donk's Sports Tavern and Double J's Sports Bar — reopened earlier this year as the Joint.

    Patrons sit at the bar in the Joint in St. Petersburg.
  5. Local Craft Beer of the Week: Fireberry Tea Ale, Sea Dog Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Clearwater's Sea Dog Brewing Co. doesn't get enough credit. Most craft beer drinkers familiar with the near-ubiquitous Sea Dog and Shipyard brands, which have been brewed in Maine since the early '90s, erroneously conclude that the Clearwater location is more of the same. But this location, opened in 2013, features its …

    Justin Grant/Special to tbt*