Air Force officials announced Thursday that KC-46 Pegasus air refueling tankers will arrive at McConnell Air Force Base within three weeks.
The Air Force signed off on paperwork with Boeing to accept the new tankers and move the process forward. An unexpected delay came last month due to a change in leadership at the Pentagon.
McConnell is set to receive the first four aircraft by late January or early February. The base will be the first in the Air Force to operate, maintain and command the new tanker.
McConnell's fleet will grow to 36 over the next several years.
The Air Force considers the KC-46 Pegasus its next-generation tanker because the planes will transform air refueling and mobility operations.
The tankers will replace KC-135 Stratotankers, which have been used for more than 60 years.
Once the KC-46 tankers get to McConnell, they will undergo operational tests and evaluation before being deployed for missions.
Delays in Boeing's production and testing pushed delivery back several times during the past two years.
Boeing says four more aircraft will arrive Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base as early as next month.
Boeing is on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the Air Force. Beyond the first aircraft that was accepted Thursday, nine aircraft are undergoing testing with the remaining aircraft of the contracted amount in production.
Kansas’ congressional delegation was involved in the procurement process that began a decade ago. They issued the following statements regarding the delivery announcement:
“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.”
“I am pleased the long awaited KC—46 will soon be in the capable hands of the men and women of the 22nd and the 931st Aerial Re-fueling Wings at McConnell,” said Sen. Pat Roberts. “They have been preparing and training to receive the first of the fleet and they are ready to fuel the fight.”
“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. Ron 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.”