North Carolina will house a new generation of Air Force tankers designed for midflight refueling of aircraft.
It’s been two years since the Air Force picked Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as its preferred location for a KC-46A Pegasus Air Refueling Squadron.
Now it’s official. The base’s environmental assessment has been completed and, pending delivery by Boeing, the 12 tanker aircraft could be at Seymour Johnson by 2020, the Air Force confirmed Wednesday.
Boeing has been beset by delays on the aircraft, including $1 billion in cost overruns and $1.7 billion in written-off costs to fix multiple design problems, according to The Seattle Times. Boeing won the contract for the project in 2011.
The KC-46A Pegasus will replace the KC-135R.
Seymour Johnson is home of the 916th Air Refueling Wing, Air Force Reserve. The base is in Wayne County near Goldsboro.
“The addition of 12 KC-46A tanker aircraft at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is a testament that North Carolina continues to be the tip of the spear for the U.S. military,” Sen. Thom Tillis said in a statement. “This decision is the result of the work being done by the men and women at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and the people of Goldsboro and Wayne County.”
Said Sen. Richard Burr in a statement: “These 12 new KC-46A aircraft will serve as a vital tool for our military, providing any fixed-wing aircraft with mid-air refueling capabilities a prolonged amount of time in the air for use in either logistical or combat operations.”
Seymour Johnson will be the third operational base for the aircraft and the first led by the Air Force Reserve.
Boeing touts the KC-46A Pegasus as a wide-body, multi-role tanker that can refuel all U.S., allied and coalition military aircraft. It can carry passengers, cargo and patients.