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First KC-46 tanker to arrive at McConnell, Forbes will keep the 135s

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNT) - The KC-46 tanker is set to arrive at McConnell Air Force Base toward the end of January or early February. 

Kansas officials announced the U.S. Air Force has accepted the first KC-46A refueling tankers from Boeing.

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran received a call on Wednesday from U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

"I am pleased that the KC-46A will finally be coming home to McConnell Air Force Base. The Airmen at McConnell have a global reach in refueling missions and with the arrival of the KC-46A, McConnell will continue to be the nation's 'Super Tanker' base for years to come," said Sen. Jerry Moran. "The Air Force has made significant investments in McConnell to make certain it is ready to receive the KC-46A and to prepare for the arrival, and we look forward to integrating this strategic asset into the Air Capital of the World."

"Today's acceptance of the KC-46 aircraft is a major milestone in the long process to ensure the men and women of the Air Force at McConnell have the best equipment available that they deserve," said Rep. Estes. "The Airmen at McConnell have worked tirelessly to prepare for this delivery and I know will make our country proud in becoming the first to receive the KC-46. This is a big win for our community and country and I look forward to providing even more aircraft and equipment to maintain our efforts to rebuild the military."

McConnell will receive the first four aircraft, all of which are ready for delivery. The next four aircraft are slated for Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

The new aircraft will replace 179 KC-135 tankers, which were first delivered in 1957 during the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower.

While the new planes will go to Wichita and to an Air National Guard base in New Hampshire, none will be coming to Topeka's Forbes Field and the 190th Air Refueling group. The base, home of the "Kansas Coyotes," will keep maintaining and deploying the KC-135 refueling tankers for the foreseeable future, according to an National Air Guard spokeswoman in Topeka.

In 2011, Boeing announced that it had received a contract from the U.S. Air Force to build the next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft.

During extensive flight testing, Boeing said six KC-46 completed more than 3,800 flight hours and offloaded more than four million pounds of fuel. The tanker was tested in all conditions, including day, night and covert.

The KC-46, derived from Boeing’s commercial 767 airframe, is built in Boeing’s Everett facility.


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