McConnell Air Force Base in southeast Wichita showed off its new hangars on Monday where the next generation of air refueling tankers will be kept.
City, state and federal leaders, including U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the base to mark the end of the three-year project.
Three hangars were built to house the Boeing-built KC-46 Pegasus tankers. A dozen other projects including a flight simulator and a fuselage trainer were completed to prepare for the arrival of the tankers.
The air refueling tankers are designed to support allied and coalition military aircraft.
The KC-46 will expand the Air Force’s capabilities because it can also carry passengers, cargo and patients.
Pilots and operators that handle cargo loading have been training the past few months to be ready for the new missions.
The Air Force expects the first tankers to be delivered late spring next year.
The McConnell KC-46 related construction projects began 2014. They include:
- Renovations to operations group buildings to allow them to hold three additional squadrons
- A technical school dormitory that will house 48 students for the Regional Maintenance Training Facility
- The first phase of a flight simulator project, which will yield three simulators
- Upgrades and reconfigurations to 24 spots on the parking apron to allow it to fit the larger size of the KC-46
- Repairs and upgrades to taxiway foxtrot
Other projects completed in the last year include:
- The one, two and three-bay hangars
- The Regional Maintenance Training Facility, where KC-46 crew chiefs will be trained
- An expansion to the mobility bag storage facility
- A fuselage trainer, which is a model of the aircraft used for training
- Upgrades to the current deicing system to accommodate the bigger aircraft
The new aircraft will eventually replace the Air Force’s aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet, but before that can happen, bases needed to be equipped to support the mission of the KC-46.
Boeing says the KC-46 can detect, avoid, defeat and survive threats using multiple layers of protection, which will enable it to operate safely in medium-threat environments.
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