U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the statement below following the Pentagon announcement today that the 434th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) at Indiana’s Grissom Air Force Base has been selected as one of four finalists to be the first Air Force Reserve unit to fly the new KC-46A tanker aircraft.
Donnelly said, “Today’s announcement from the Air Force is tremendous news. In terms of the infrastructure necessary to host the KC-46, Grissom has everything the Air Force needs. Most importantly, it has the smart, hardworking Hoosier men and women serving in 434th Air Refueling Wing. Their sterling reputation in combination with the strong support of the surrounding communities in Miami County are why Grissom is a finalist. I will continue working on the Senate Armed Services Committee in the months ahead to ensure the Air Force recognizes and fairly evaluates these strengths when making its final basing decision on the KC-46.”
On February 20, 2015, Donnelly joined members of the Indiana congressional delegation in sending a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James urging the Air Force to give strong consideration to Grissom to host the KC-46A.
If selected, the 434th ARW could receive the new aircraft as early as fiscal year 2019. The KC-46A is a top Air Force priority and a significant step forward in replacing the military’s aging tanker fleet. It has an extended refueling capacity and range, improved capabilities and efficiency, and the ability to perform cargo and aeromedical evacuation.
According to the Air Force, the next step in the selection process will entail conducting detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each of the four finalist bases. After completion of the site surveys, a single preferred location will be selected this summer. That preferred site must then undergo an environmental review, with the final decision expected in the summer of 2016.