The Pease Air National Guard Base has been selected by the U.S. Air Force to receive new KC-46A air refueling tankers in a development that New Hampshire politicians praised Wednesday and which could bring nearly $42 million in federal funding to Pease for preparations.
The Pease base is home to the 157th Air Refueling Wing, which could receive up to 12 KC-46A aircraft starting in fiscal 2018, a press release from U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. said.
Shaheen and Ayotte have advocated for Pease to receive KC-46A tankers since 2011, according to the release.
“The official selection of Pease to be the home of the KC-46As is a testament to the 157th Air Refueling Wing’s exceptional record of service,” Shaheen said. “Aerial refueling is a vital component of our military’s ability to operate around the world, and the new KC-46As at Pease will serve our national defense and local economy well for years to come.”
Ayotte said in the press release that, “For decades to come, the KC-46As at Pease will provide critical support and significant capabilities that are important to our men and women in uniform, bolstering our military readiness.”
According to Boeing’s website, the KC-46A is a multi-role tanker that’s based on a commercial 767 plane and “can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft compatible with international aerial refueling procedures, any time, on any mission, and can carry passengers, cargo and patients whenever and wherever needed.”
Boeing also touts the aircraft’s ability to “operate safely in medium-threat environments” thanks to multiple protective layers involving detection and avoidance technology.
Col. Paul Hutchinson, commander of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, thanked New Hampshire’s congressional delegation and Gov. Maggie Hassan for their support and efforts to secure the KC-46A Pegasus.
Shaheen and Ayotte announced last year that the Air Force had selected Pease as the top Air National Guard base to receive the KC-46A tanker, pending an environmental impact study, the release said.
New Hampshire’s congressional delegation hosted Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James at Pease in May for a facility tour and meetings with members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, it added.
President Barack Obama's Fiscal Year 2015 budget request calls for $41.9 million in military construction funds for Pease to prepare for KC-46A operations.
In May, the Readiness subcommittee, which Shaheen and Ayotte lead and which oversees military construction, authorized $41.9 million for facilities construction at Pease in preparation for receiving the KC-46A tanker, the release said.