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Guest Column
Bringing tanker aircraft to MacDill is good for Tampa Bay | Column
The strong business community in our region will continue to advocate for the needs of MacDill AFB and its service members.
A KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft connects with an F-15 Strike Eagle test aircraft from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on Oct. 29, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Jackson).
A KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft connects with an F-15 Strike Eagle test aircraft from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, on Oct. 29, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Jackson). [ MASTER SGT. MICHAEL JACKSON | Courtesy U.S. Air Force ]
Published Jan. 19

The future of MacDill Air Force Base and its military missions is stronger than ever following the U.S. Air Force announcement that the base is the preferred location for 24 new KC-46 tanker aircraft. The MacDill Means Mobility Task Force, led by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, and composed of leaders from the Tampa Bay Chamber, South Tampa Chamber of Commerce, former MacDill military leaders and the Tampa Bay Defense Alliance advocated for MacDill Air Force Base for many years. As the Air Force recapitalizes its aging fleet, this aircraft provides next generation aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and partner nation receivers.

Andrew J. Mayts Jr.
Andrew J. Mayts Jr. [ Provided ]

The site survey process assessed standard factors such as infrastructure, operational capacity and environmental impacts — all areas MacDill Air Force Base scored well in.

We were pleased to see, for the first time, the Department of Defense include community support as a weighted factor in this process. This factor underscores the critical role civilian communities have in not only supporting mission capabilities but also their responsibility for providing a high quality of life for military families. In fact, the Tampa Bay community is now branding our military support as “Military Bay, USA” to identify the region as military friendly, supporting MacDill and the installations that call MacDill home.

Since the 1940s, the Tampa Bay business community has enjoyed a close working relationship with MacDill Air Force Base — a vital part of our nation’s defense and an important training location for those who safeguard America. In partnership with our local, state and federal elected officials we’ve advocated for quality-of-life initiatives that support gainful employment for military spouses, educational opportunities for military dependents, and transportation options for those working on the military base.

By securing the new KC-46 mission, MacDill will further position itself as a lead installation not only for the armed forces, but also as a strong economic driver for the Tampa Bay community. The strong business community in our region will continue to advocate for the needs of MacDill and its service members, and we are eager to support, as needed, to ensure a smooth transition to this new critical mission for the installation.

As we look towards the future, we are continuing to focus on the needs of the military family, to include: affordable housing options in Tampa Bay, military spouse licensure reciprocity, and seamless transitions for military dependents into the K-12 school programs. Ensuring that the military families stationed and living here in Tampa Bay have a positive experience is crucial to the success of our entire community.

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Andrew J. Mayts Jr. is the 2022 chair of the Tampa Bay Chamber.

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