By Stacey Reese (USACE)April 17, 2018
The acquisition of one hundred fifty eight acres of land, adjacent to Tinker Air Force Base, was the starting point of what will become the main maintenance facility for the KC-46A, the Air Force's newest aerial refueling tanker.
The KC-46A Pegasus will replace the KC-135 Stratotanker fleet, some of which have been in service for over fifty years. The aircraft, designed by Boeing, refuels any fixed-wing, receiver capable aircraft and has the capability to carry passengers, cargo, and patients. This new aircraft has a larger capacity for fuel than the one currently in use, as well more seating, a higher maximum cargo load and more room for aeromedical evac crew and patients.
The construction project is being managed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District, with the first three phases of the contract currently underway. According to Jeremy Smith, program manager, this is a multi-phase contract, which began with the land acquisition process and will continue with several more construction phases over multiple years. "In-flight refueling enables us to continue to support global missions," stated Smith. The current project includes building the infrastructure for the FY15 Two-bay Hangar (utilities and airfield pavement), a depot maintenance hangar and a two-bay multi-purpose maintenance hangar. These hangars will be able to house the new KC-46A, which is longer, taller and wider than the KC-135. Projects in design for 2019 include a two-bay fuel cell maintenance hangar and two-bay depot maintenance hangar.
According to Brandi Bruens, project engineer and contracting officer representative for the KC-46A infrastructure and two bay hanger, weather has been a factor for the project. "All of the current work is exterior work, which of course is exposed to the elements," said Bruens. "Additionally, things such as airfield paving require appropriate temperatures for the project to be able to move forward."
"Working in conjunction with multiple contractors who have to work in close proximity has definitely created a challenge in logistics, and cooperation," stated Bruens. "But the finished project will create new jobs, resulting in a significant boost to the local economy."
"When I arrived onsite, this was the quiet remnants of an abandoned rail yard. Now it is a complex construction site with multiple demanding projects, said Bruens. "I have a rare opportunity to be in on the ground floor, to play a small part of a large, mission-critical program that will continue to be impactful in many ways long after I am gone."
The final phases of the project are currently slated to start in 2027, with an expected completion date of 2029.